One year and a day after a fatal crash grounded the test fleet, Bell Helicopter has resumed flight tests of the Bell 525 Relentless super-medium, the company announces on 7 July.
The US Federal Aviation Administration agreed to renew the 525’s experimental certificate before Bell could resume flight tests.
The crash on 6 July near Italy, Texas, killed two test pilots. The first of Bell’s three 525 prototypes broke up in flight, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The crash during visual flying conditions remains under investigation by the NTSB.
“The team is focused on certification in 2018 and we are committed to bringing this innovative and high-performing helicopter to market,” says Mitch Snyder, president and chief executive of Bell.
The 525 is racing the Leonardo AW609 tiltrotor to become the first civilian rotorcraft to enter service with fly-by-wire flight controls.
Bell launched the five-bladed 525 in 2012 in response to the rise of the super-medium category defined by the Leonardo AW189 and Airbus Helicopeters H175.
The company initially planned to certificate the aircraft in 2017, but the crash pushed the milestone into 2018.