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Bell Helicopter’s 429 Receives Performance Boost

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, announces it received Transport Canada approval for a 500 lbs. weight increase – to increase the maximum gross weight to 7,500 lbs – for the Bell 429.

“This enhancement was the result of continued requests from our customers to yield additional performance from the Bell 429. Our customers told us they loved all the features and performance the Bell 429 brings to bear but they wanted more range to take better advantage of the helicopter’s IFR/WAAS capabilities allowing for a greater safety margin by ensuring the capacity for necessary fuel reserves for the growing number of operations in the IFR environment,” says Larry Roberts, senior vice president for Bell Helicopter’s Commercial Business.

“Outside of the previous certification limit at 7,000 lbs, all the test data indicated that the Bell 429 would suffer no technical constraints by increasing the gross weight to 7,500 lbs. We reached out to the Bell 429’s certification authority, Transport Canada, and have been working with them for several months to validate what our data showed. After careful testing, review and evaluation Transport Canada issued the exemption approval for the gross weight increase,” Roberts says.

The Bell 429 is certified for Single or Dual Pilot IFR, Cat. A / JAROPS Performance Class 1 at maximum gross weight; has a state-of-the-art, fully-integrated glass cockpit; an advanced drive system that delivers power and superb performance; best in class WAAS navigation & IFR capability; and is the first helicopter certified through the MSG-3 process. The additional gross weight now permits operators to equip the Bell 429 with additional options including Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning System (HTAWS), a radar altimeter, cockpit voice/flight data recorder and strobe lights.

The increased gross weight directly translates to greater range and loiter times. Air ambulance and law enforcement operators in particular will be better able to serve the needs of the public, saving lives and protecting communities.

With Transport Canada’s approval now in hand, Bell Helicopter will formally petition the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for concurrence with Transport Canada on a 500 lbs. exemption to Part 27 with respect to the 7,000 lbs. maximum gross weight limit.

“We have deep respect and a very good relationship with both the FAA and EASA. We believe they will support Transport Canada’s decision; after all, the exemption would allow for product improvements that increase operational capability for owners and operators making it a win/win for everyone,” Roberts says.

The weight deviation improvement will have the capability to be retrofitted to the existing fleet through the installation of a minimal kit that will be available through Bell Helicopter. Additionally, Bell Helicopter will issue the necessary changes to the flight manual to correspond with the additional weight capacity. All of this information will be made available through Bell Helicopter and its customer support network throughout the world.