On 7th July, Bell Helicopter announced that it has resumed flight tests on the Bell 525 Relentless. This comes after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to renew their experimental certificate.
The test fleet was grounded on 6th July 2016, after the initial test flight crashed, causing fatal injuries to two test pilots. The crash, which is still being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) happened during visual flying conditions. Mitch Snyder, president and CEO stated “Bell Helicopter has worked with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and FAA since the accident and we are confident in the resumption of flight test activity.”
Bell, a Textron Inc. Company, launched the five-bladed 525 in 2012 and is aiming for it to become the world’s first fly-by-wire commercial helicopter. Initially planned for certification in 2017, it is designed to decrease pilot workload and be able to operate safely in austere environments. The aircraft utilizes advanced technology including the first fully-integrated touch screen avionics for helicopters and is now slated to be certified in 2018.
Mitch Snyder stated “The team is focused on certification in 2018 and we are committed to bringing this innovative and high-performing helicopter to market.”