It was no coincidence that on November 10th, eve of the opening of the Zhuhai Airshow in China, the American company, Bell Helicopter conducted the maiden flight of the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X. According to our information China will need 5,000 new civil helicopters costing an estimated $50 billion over the next 20 years. This new aircraft, unveiled last February, already totals nearly 300 purchase intentions, 50 of which were recorded during the chinese Airshow.
Mirabel in Canada, where the manufacturer is located, saw the first flight of the new Bell 505, and lasted about thirty minutes. The first circuit around the runway was to test the low speed maneuverability of the aircraft, which did not exceed 110 km/h (70 mph).
The new 5-seater Jet Ranger, powered by a Turbomeca gas turbine engine, will be able to reach 230 km/h (140 mph), over a range of 660 kilometres (410 miles).
Although the first tests were performed in Canada, production of the new helicopter is expected to be carried out in America at a new plant in Lafayette, Louisiana, with delivery of the first units in 2016, at a list price of around one million dollars.
Still in the civil domain, but fifteen times more expensive, Bell are also developing another bigger helicopter, the 16 to 20-seater 525 Relentless, whose certification is expected for 2015.