Bell Helicopter told R&WI that the automatic systems onboard its in-development 525 Relentless are demonstrating the ability to reduce start-up times.
The company said the 525 fly-by-wire system includes a self-diagnostic capability that before flight rapidly "pulse-checks" system components that a pilot otherwise might have to manually examine. Pilots of the 525 in its flight-test configuration have reported an approximate 10-min startup time between turning on the battery and lifting the aircraft to a hover.
Such a capability could improve the medium-lift 525's marketability for public service roles, such as medical transport and fire suppression, particularly during what parent company Textron previously described as a "soft market for medium aircraft in 2016."
In the weeks leading up to Heli-Expo, Bell had achieved 140 flight test hr between its two 525 test vehicles and has made several additional milestones to the program. FTV1 has completed cold-weather testing and last week achieved a 190-kt airspeed. Based on the performance that flight test pilots are witnessing with FTV1, Bell expects to announce its increase to the capability of the aircraft in the future.
FTV2, which first flew Dec. 21, handles exactly like FTV1 according to pilots. Bell currently is conducting performance and reliability testing with that aircraft and is preparing to travel with it to Louisville for display at Heli-Expo.
Bell said also it has begun work on a third production aircraft for customer delivery.