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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bell Fanfares Launch of 505 'X' – the Jet Ranger's Successor

Following the lukewarm response to the 525 “Relentless” naming two years ago at Heli-Expo 2012, Bell returns to the tried-and-true Jet Ranger brand, this time with an “X” factor.

By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief

Bell Helicopter launched, in the words of President and CEO John Garrison, “the revitalization of the legendary Jet Ranger” during Heli-Expo on Tuesday at 11:00 am (Pacific). The launch drew a huge crowd with Garrison introducing the new SLS helicopter from a podium among the crowd. He reviewed the drive of Bell in terms of pushing forward with the 525 Relentless and on the military side, the V-280 Valor (for the Joint Multi-Role) competition.

 

Curtain just before the Bell 505 unveiling. Photos by Andrew Drwiega

 

The previous day, Garrison had talked about “making progress and gaining momentum in our commercial business.” The OEM delivered 213 civil helicopters in 2013, up 12 percent from the 188 in 2012. Bell recorded revenues of $4.5 billion in 2013. He had referred to the Bell 505 short light single (SLS) Jet Ranger X as entering into a market segment that was “incredibly price-sensitive” and that the SLS would sell for around $1 million. He added that it would be attractive through its technology offering, including the Garmin G1000H avionics and the Turbomeca Arrius T2 engine.

As far as the Bell 525 Relentless was concerned, Garrison said that first flight is expected by the end of the year and that the “super medium” helicopter, with its fly-by-wire technology and CAT A operational capability, could be “best in class against a very wide range of competitors – AW139, AW175, AW189, EC225 and S-92 foremost among them. A strong claim to make under any circumstances.”

 

 

Garrison acknowledged the stated intent of the U.S. Army to retire the OH-58 and TH-67 from its fleet, but said that Bell continued to execute on programs that it had. He balanced this by saying that the AH-1Z and UH-1Y were halfway through their delivery schedules (36 and 87 aircraft, respectively last year from a total program of record of 349 helicopters – 160 UH-1Ys and the rest new and remanufactured AH-1Zs). Two U.S. Marine Corps squadrons are now operational with both aircraft.

 

Bell CEO John Garrison.

 

The V-22 continues with its Multi Year II, with 99 Ospreys due for delivery this year (with 26 options). Garrison said the six for Israel’s military was still progressing through Congressional notification and that Japan was analyzing pricing 17 V-22s.

Related: Event Coverage

 

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