Bell Helicopter Certifies Industry Leading Wide Area Augmentation System Capability

Bell Helicopter announces the introduction of a best in class certification of precision Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) enabled glide path capability on the Bell 429.

The Bell 429 is the only helicopter available in the market with this technology certified for 9 degree localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at a minimum velocity for instrument procedures (Vmini) of 45 knots. Such a low minimum velocity allows for the Bell 429 to fly LPV procedures in steep approach conditions.

Using a modernized cockpit layout and navigation solutions the Bell WAAS capability, as demonstrated on the Bell 429, increases helicopter safety, mission efficiency and environmental sensitivity, while reducing precision approach limitations and associated operational costs.

Many flights are grounded annually due to poor weather conditions, the WAAS capability allows for point-in-space approaches as low as 250 foot visibility, increasing operational mission time for Bell 429 customers. 

Presenting a best in class navigational capability, Bell’s 429 WAAS implementation changes the helicopter operating environment, allowing for the creation of a safer rotorcraft IFR system, providing a platform to put those capabilities to use and allowing for precision approaches in low altitude, urban areas.

Designed, developed, implemented and tested by a government industry partnership led by Bell Helicopter, the continuing airspace infrastructure project will facilitate the creation of public use rotorcraft solutions and provide a solid framework for additional next generation national airspace developments. 

The Bell Helicopter led team includes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Program Office, the FAA Flight Standards Organization, Hickok and Associates, Air Methods Corporation, and the Mercy Medical Team. 

Bell’s WAAS technologies include glide path angles certified to 9 degrees at speeds of 45 knots, allowing 429 customers to operate their aircraft at a safer altitude, avoid obstacles and descend precisely to their landing site. 

This technology is available immediately on all new Bell 429s delivered out of the Bell Helicopter Mirabel, Canada facility. Bell Helicopter is exploring the use of this technology on additional Bell aircraft.