Bell Helicopter is completing final preparations for the first flight of its 525 Relentless, which it expects within weeks, the company’s VP of that program told Rotor & Wing. Larry Thimmesch said the company is transitioning from manufacturing of Flight Test Aircraft No. 1 to pre-flight prep activity. Current work includes calibrating the flight test aircraft’s rotor blades and fuel system, determining final empty weight and performing “J2” overall manufacturing inspection. Once that is done, the aircraft will move into ground runs. “That’s where we do telemetry checkouts, rotor track and balance, ground resonance, torsional stability,” said Thimmesch, who worked as a program director at Bombardier Learjet and a senior designer at Boeing Commercial Airplanes before joining Bell in 2010. “Then we start powering up and doing functional checks of the engines and auxiliary power unit, checking out avionics heading calibrations and the overall electrical and generating-distribution systems.” Flight tests will be done at Bell’s Amarillo, Texas facility. The company plans five aircraft for the flight test program.