Friday, March 14, 2014
Legendary Bell 47 Gets New Pair of Boots
One announcement during Heli-Expo 2014 that brought the past right up to the present was that which saw engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce signing a multi-engine contract with Scott’s Bell 47, the owner of the Bell 47 type certificate since 2009.
Scott's Bell 47 on display at Heli-Expo 2014. Photo by Andrew Drwiega
This brings Rolls-Royce’s RR300 light turboshaft powerplant to the Bell 407GT-6 light utility helicopter. “We will deliver an engine for the first flight test in June,” said Greg Fedele, senior vice president Helicopters for Rolls-Royce. “The engine integration only took a small amount of work,” he added.
The RR300 was launched in 2007 based on the M250, of which 30,000 engines were produced. It has been optimized for performance between 240-300 shp with a recommended 2,000-hour heavy maintenance inspection (HMI). It also powers Robinson’s R66.
With more than 1,000 Bell 47s still flying, despite production being closed 40 years ago, Scott’s Bell owner Scott Churchill has positioned his company to be the established OEM with the production of the Bell 47GT-6 and for spare parts for other variants.
Rolls-Royce RR300 at Heli-Expo. Photo by Frank Lombardi
“With the RR300 we can target the entry level turbine market where few aircraft fit that niche,” explained Fedele. “It has already enjoyed strong growth through our business with Robinson.” When asked whether there was a potential opportunity in the rising aerial unmanned vehicle (UAV) sector, Febele replied: “While growth [in this sector] is small it is still a growth area that we will monitor.” The Rolls-Royce M250 powered the original Northrop Grumman RQ-8A Fire Scout UAV and is the current powerplant on AgustaWestland’s SW-4 Solo (now in a UAV trial program for the UK’s Royal Navy).