Bell Rings In With New Line…


Bell Helicopter this week announced the first flight of Bells MAPL (Modular Affordable Product Line) tail-fan demonstrator at the companys new XworX research center in Arlington, Texas. The company said its new aircraft on July 15 was test-flown, briefly, including hover, low-speed maneuvers and pedal turns before safely landing. Bells says its tail-fan-equipped demonstrator will be used to research applications for its new product line. That new line could include the tail-fan technology as well as an advanced rotor system, the demonstrator for which is planned to fly later this year. Bell said it expects the first new aircraft in its MAPL family to be available in 2008. The company added that some of the new technologies are already mature and ready for market. They are being incorporated into Bells 427i model, which was announced earlier this year. After the flight, Bell pilot Jim McCollough said, “This aircraft is easy to fly. The workload in hover is very low.” Observers described the tail fan as practically inaudible, according to the company. The demonstrator is an experimental Bell 407 with a 40-inch-diameter fan and duct, which replace the 65-inch-diameter tail rotor. The tail fan incorporates technology “covered by new patent disclosures,” said Bell. A test program will be conducted at the XworX facility and at Leadville, Colo., to obtain high-altitude performance data.