Oct. 26, 2007, Fort Worth. TX - Officials from Bell Helicopter today announced the completion of another major milestone in Bell 429 development. The 429 team has set or "frozen" the final exterior profile design, verified through months of development flight testing.
Commenting on the event Robert Fitzpatrick, sr. vice president for Marketing and Sales said, "This is one of the most significant events in the development of an aircraft. This means our design meets the aesthetic and in-flight handling specifications we set long ago. These are specifications we promised we would deliver to our customers. This moves us much closer to our certification and beginning delivery goal of the end of 2008."
Since the introduction of the 429, Bell's new advanced-technology, light twin-engine helicopter at HELI-EXPO in 2005, two prototypes have accumulated over 400 hours of rigorous flight testing. One aircraft is in Colorado performing high altitude testing and the other is in Arizona doing high temperature testing.
To date Bell has received over 240 customer purchase agreements for the Bell 429. With first delivery slated to occur at the end of 2008, Bell plans to ramp production to 60 aircraft per year by 2011.
Bell believes that its targeted market segments have found the aircraft design well-suited for their applications. The performance specifications, low operating costs and onboard advanced technology equipment make the 429 extremely adept at typical helicopter missions flown today. For example, it is particularly suited for the emergency medical evacuation mission with a large cabin, easy access doors and a rear-door entry option. Also, law enforcement agencies have found that the 429 will efficiently carry the people and equipment necessary for their vital missions.