Bell's 407GXi has earned IFR certification, the company announced on Thursday, Aug. 15. Photo: Bell
About a month after the FAA cleared the Leonardo TH-119 to fly in inclement weather under instrument flight rules (IFR), on Aug. 15 Bell received IFR certification for the 407GXi helicopter, the company said.
The FAA's IFR certification of the TH-119 last month marked the first time in decades that the agency had certified a single-engine rotorcraft.
The TH-119, the 407GXi and the twin engine Airbus H135 are competing for the Advanced Helicopter Training System TH-73, formerly known as TH-XX, to replace the Navy’s fleet of legacy TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopters used by all Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard pilot trainees. The IFR certification of the 407GXi comes in just under the wire, as the Navy required such certification by the end of this month for an expected contract award in November.
The Navy is to buy 130 of the trainers in five years and divest its TH-57 fleet by 2023.
Bell said that the 407GXi, a descendant of the TH-57, "offers a unique combination of capability, ease of transition, and low sustainment costs, giving the best value to the Navy."
Should Bell win the contract, the company plans to build the helicopters in Ozark, Alabama.
Last March, in a demonstration flight, a Bell test pilot lauded the helicopter's avionics, including the Garmin G1000H NXi [integrated flight deck], the helicopter's four axis autopilot which enhances aircraft stability and permits initial instrument training to be more efficient, and the Garmin G1000 NXi flight stream, which the pilot said allows more rapid flight planning loading with the touch of a screen.
The Garmin G1000H NXi Flight Deck "enhances situational awareness and reduces pilot workload by delivering easy-to-read information at a glance," Bell said.