Scott’s-Bell 47 develops new composite blades
Jan. 26, 2012, Le Sueur, Mn. - Scott’s – Bell 47, Inc. (SB47) today announced that they have contracted with IAC Ltd. to develop new composite main rotor blades for the model 47 fleet.
By Carey Fredericks
IAC is an internationally recognized main and tail rotor blade repair & overhaul service provider in Fort Worth, Texas with FAA certifications to inspect & repair all major OEM’s rotor blades. In addition to repair activities, IAC and its affiliates are currently developing new blade designs for several helicopter models.
The new main rotor blade will consist of a custom selected airfoil for improved performance and will be developed using the latest composite materials design & manufacturing technologies. SB47 anticipates this new airfoil will provide increases in hover performance and a reduction in fuel burn. The development plan also includes fatigue & damage tolerance testing planned to demonstrate a service life increase over the current 5,000 flight hours for the Bell designed metal blades. SB47 also confirmed that the composite blade will be designed to retain the Model 47 helicopter’s best-in-class Autorotation capability. It is intended that these new blades be interchangeable in pairs with the current metal blades in-service.
“We think this is a very exciting development for the model 47 operators.” stated Scott Churchill, President/Owner of Scott’s – Bell 47, Inc. “We have been getting asked for some time if we were considering a composite main rotor blade, and after working with a number of potential suppliers it was clear that this is the right choice rather than continuing to manufacture the existing metal blades.”
“The value proposition for a composite main rotor blade is extremely positive.” stated Neil Marshall, General Manager of Scott’s – Bell 47. “Improved performance, potential for improved service life, inherent damage tolerance, manufacturing consistency blade-to-blade, and we are able to provide this while maintaining the best-in-class autorotation performance of the Model 47.” Also with an eye to safety the new blades will come as standard with a high visibility paint scheme. “We expect the new blades to be available late 2013 and we will keep our customer base informed as we progress towards that goal. Considering the recent announcement of a new Instrument Panel for the Model 47, we believe this sends a strong message to the marketplace that SB47 is committed to developing the Model 47 fleet.”
SB47 will offer customers the option to advance order the new composite main rotor blades at an introductory price starting at the upcoming Heli-Expo in Dallas, Texas next month. IAC, Ltd will also be on-hand at the show to answer questions regarding the new blades.