Flight Test Crash May Affect Relentless

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The crash of a decades-old Bell 414 helicopter in Texas on Tuesday could have an impact on the development of Bell's latest high-tech helicopter, the 525 Relentless. The 414 is a technology demonstrator for Bell's Xworx development center in Arlington, Texas, and was apparently testing gear for the Relentless when it went down about 30 miles from Arlington. Both pilots escaped injury after making an emergency landing in a cotton field after reporting tail rotor problems. The aircraft flipped on its side on landing.

The Relentless is Bell's latest large commercial helicopter and was announced at last year's HAI convention. It will carry 12 to 16 passengers up to 400 miles and features the latest in glass panels and digital flight controls to make it safer and easier to land in bad weather. Offshore oil platform servicing is much of the market for this class of helicopter. In the announcement, Bell said it would fly a prototype by 2014.