Bell Resumes ‘Relentless’ Flight Tests

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Bell Helicopter’s twin-engine 525 Relentless is back in the air after being grounded for about a year following a fatal crash in Texas, the company has announced. Two Bell Helicopter pilots were killed in July 2016 when the 525 crashed during a test flight near the company’s facility in eastern Texas. “Bell Helicopter has worked with the NTSB and FAA since the accident and we are confident in the resumption of flight test activity,” said Mitch Snyder, Bell’s CEO. The FAA has renewed the aircraft’s experimental certificate. “The team is focused on certification in 2018 and we are committed to bringing this innovative and high-performing helicopter to market,” Snyder said.

The NTSB investigation is "ongoing," NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson told AVweb on Tuesday. "The next step in the process will be to open the public docket, which I expect later this summer," he said. The Bell 525 is the world’s first fly-by-wire commercial helicopter, the company says, and is designed to operate safely and reliably in austere environments with less pilot workload. The aircraft features the first fully integrated touch screen avionics suite designed for helicopters, the Garmin G5000H. The company says the 525’s payload, cabin, cargo volumes and passenger comfort are designed to be best-in-class.

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