The chopper went through a series of tests, including basic takeoff and landing drills, followed by more complex patterns and unique situations.
"The first flight test started with taxi testing and maneuvers, and then went into an initial hover, performing various hover maneuvers and then tested low-speed handling qualities with winds gusting to 20k,” said Bell Helicopter senior flight test pilot Jeff Greenwood.
The super-medium helicopter is the world’s first fly-by-wire commercial helicopter. The 525 is meant to perform missions in situations other helicopters normally wouldn’t be able to. It also has a more advanced autopilot system, decreasing the workload and stress on the pilot.
Some qualities that make the 525 special include its best-in-range payload/range capability, cabin and cargo volumes, and visibility with their wrap-around windshields. The helicopter can hold 2 crew members and up to 16 passengers with standard seating, or 20 with high-density seating. It has a max cruise speed of 287 km/h, and is able to perform CAT-A takeoffs and landings to and from a helipad at maximum gross weight.
Bell Helicopter commercial programs executive vice-president Matt Hasik added that the company was proud that all its hard work over the years had finally paid off in the form of the 525.
"The Bell 525 was announced at Heli-Expo in 2012, and we are proud to have achieved this milestone. We have diligently executed our schedule to design, develop, build and test the aircraft, and look forward to the next phase of flight testing as we work towards certification,”Hasik said.
As for that next step, Bell has logged over 60 orders for their 525 as of now. These were agreed to under letters of intent.
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