Bell Helicopters Debut At Heli-Expo

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Heli-Expo, the annual event hosted by Helicopter Association International, opened in Louisville, Kentucky, this week, with about 700 exhibitors and 60 helicopters on display. Two aircraft being shown for the first time are Bell's flight-test vehicles for the 525 Relentless and the 505 Jet Ranger X programs. Bell officials said they have nearly 80 letters of intent for the 525, which first flew last July, and more than 350 interested in the 505. Honeywell officials said at the show they expect slower economic growth over the next five years, with 4,300 to 4,800 helicopter deliveries worldwide, about 400 less than last year's forecast.

Also at the show, officials from Finmeccanica Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland) said they are continuing to work on their civilian tiltrotor following a crash last year, and hope to resume test flying soon and stay on track for certification in 2017. Airbus Helicopters brought its H215 to the show for the first stop on a three-week U.S. demo tour. The twin-engine multipurpose helicopter can fulfill a variety of missions at an economical price, the company said. Pratt & Whitney Canada announced today they will add FADEC controls to several of their engines used by helicopter manufacturers. Heli-Expo officials said they expected about 20,000 industry professionals to attend the show, which besides the exhibit hall and static display features more than 100 educational courses, seminars, workshops and forums.