Flight without any worries
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Flight without any worries

They say that an old friend is better than the new two. For the aviation industry, healthy conservatism is a solid investment protection. Before purchasing an expensive aircraft, a competent buyer will think three times about the future: where to train the flight and technical personnel, where to carry out maintenance and repair. For machines that have worked well in the market, a powerful infrastructure has already been built, but what about the new products? In the case of a helicopter Bell 505 Jet Ranger X the novelty of the machine should not be alarming: in Russia there was a product provided with all the necessary services.

Canada, USA, Europe, further everywhere

The Bell 206 family, replicated in more than 1960 thousand copies from the mid-7s, was a real bestseller in the light helicopter segment. However, time takes its toll: in 2010, the last Bell 206B-3 left the assembly line, and another seven years later came the turn of the elongated Bell 206L LongRanger. The leading North American manufacturer already had a trump card in his pocket - the new five-seater Bell 505 Jet Ranger X. By the time it entered the market, many private and corporate owners had opted for Robinson R66, and it was not easy to regain their market share. However, the first years of sales show that this mission is feasible.

First of all, the company needed to get a pass to the market - to certify a novelty in the world's leading aviation administrations. The type certificate was originally issued on December 21, 2016 by the transport authorities of Canada. Two months later, the production of an assembly line was certified in Mirabelle (Quebec, Canada) and the first delivery to a private owner took place. In the summer of 2017, the document was issued by the FAA American Aviation Administration. European certification followed on November 12, 2017, in May 2018 - Chinese. March 28, 2019 the Federal Air Transport Agency issued the certificate FATA-01014R. Also, the certificates were validated by the aviation authorities of Australia, Argentina, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, South Korea, Japan and other countries.

Deliveries began next, and the counter of the machines transferred to consumers quickly passed the first, and then the second hundred. In August 2019, the manufacturer reported that more than 200 cars were in operation on six continents, which managed to fly in more than 20 thousand hours. This indicator is one of the best for all models of the American manufacturer. You can get such results only in one case - by ensuring high rates of training for flight and technical personnel, as well as maintaining the fleet in good condition.

Great progress for a small helicopter

Training pilots for the new helicopter is not an easy task, but previous developments have helped Bell to solve it. Of course, some generic features are a plus - the 505th machine inherited from Bell 206 elements of the load-bearing system, so that its behavior in the air is predictable for those who have mastered the previous model. However, a completely new cockpit is changing the idea of ​​flying. The integrated avionics complex Garmin G1000H provides navigation, radio communications. Using two displays with a diagonal of 10,4 inches, you can plan flights, observe a moving map, evaluate the performance of systems. Optional modes help to fly, increasing situational awareness: inform about terrain, warn of the risk of collision with the surface, inform about nearby aircraft equipped with ADS-B transponders. The use of a fully digital engine control system such as FADEC greatly simplifies the control of the power plant.

To match the "electronic" helicopter and training aids. Located in the American Fort Worth (Texas), the Bell Flight Academy offers students a full training course at the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X. The training center has two helicopters and the latest simulator. The specificity of this simulator lies in the fact that, while not being completely mobile, it still significantly surpasses many analogues in the reliability of sensations from flight. It is necessary to "start the engine", as the simulator cabin starts to swing back and forth in time with the rotor, which is gaining speed. The helicopter-specific vibrations and noise effects are complemented by a highly detailed and realistic picture created by an in-camera visualization system. And although the simulator does not have a full-fledged mobility system, according to the feedback of cadets, the sensations are very close to those that can be obtained in real flight. But most importantly, on the simulator, you can safely work out various failures and special cases that occur in flight. Therefore, those who wish can practice piloting in case of equipment failures, exacerbating these problems by wind or rain.

A typical weekly program of initial flight training for Bell 505 pilots includes a theoretical part, two hours on a simulator and three flights on a real helicopter. The load on the cars is quite large: in the first year, the flight time was 500 hours for each side, and if in 2017 the Bell Training Academy graduated 55 cadets who had studied on the 505th car, then in 2018 their number almost doubled.

However, taking into account plans to produce from 150 to 200 helicopters per year, the capacity of only one training center will not be enough. In the Asian region, the largest center is located in Singapore, while European customers can contact Heli Protection Europe. Her training center, located in the south of France, has a certificate issued by the Federal Air Transport Agency on October 15, 2019.

New Generation Maintenance School

The relationship with the popular Bell 206 helps to retrain for a new type of aircraft not only for pilots, but also for technical personnel. But for some, the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X may be the first helicopter to be serviced. Therefore, much attention is paid to creating an interactive training material, the study of which in computer classes will allow cadets to get a detailed idea of ​​the design of the aircraft and its main units, as well as to work out individual service operations.

Bell has created the Unity program, which uses detailed 3D helicopter models. The ability to look at each compartment, unit from different angles and with different magnifications creates the effect of presence. If earlier the technicians needed to familiarize themselves with the diagrams and illustrations, and then look for a long time between the training materials and full-scale units, now the learning process is accelerated and simplified. In some cases, it is possible to see the design from such angles that are impossible for a real helicopter without partial disassembly: on the monitor, you can make individual nodes “transparent” by opening a review of the elements located behind them. Of course, the big advantages of computer-based learning tools are mobility and the ability to deploy quickly. The Unity program installed on the laptop is available almost in the field.

Flight without any worries

Nevertheless, no matter how far the technical means have stepped, it is impossible to abandon training centers and switch to distance learning. Russian users have access to training both in the USA, Fort Worth, and directly in Russia. At the Gorka Heliport near Moscow there is an aviation training center of the same name that provides additional professional training in continuing education programs "Training of engineering and technical personnel for maintenance of a Bell 505 helicopter with an Arrius 2R engine" with qualification marks B1.3 and B2. The corresponding application to the AUC certificate was issued by the Federal Air Transport Agency on October 28, 2019.

Service in Russia and around the world

Over the past decades, Bell has managed to create a powerful network of more than one hundred service centers providing support to operators in 34 countries, including 20 centers located in Europe. To a large extent, this potential will be available to Bell 505 owners as well. In particular, in October 2019, Kazan Airlines received approval for Bell 505 maintenance.

According to the general director of JSC Kazan Airlines, Magomed Zakarzhaev, the company had previously mastered servicing several models of helicopters of the American manufacturer: Bell 206B3, 407, 427,429 and 430. Preparations for the development of a new type involved training personnel, purchasing special equipment and tools, as well as forming a warehouse spare parts. M. Zakarzhaev stressed that today more than 300 items are placed in the warehouse, and the total investment (taking into account the training of three engineers in aircraft and engine and three in aviation and electronic equipment) amounted to about 4 million rubles. Airline specialists trained in Fort Worth and Singapore.

The company has already “met” with all three aircraft of this type imported into Russia: helicopters were already assembled and flown in Russia, and the first calendar forms of periodic maintenance were also performed. According to experts of the enterprise, the main types of work largely repeat the maintenance program for the Bell 206B3 helicopter due to the fact that the Bell 505 helicopter was built on the basis of the 206th, and a large number of components were taken from an older, well-established model. At the same time, a modern MSG-3 service system was introduced, which provides a significant reduction in the complexity of the work without reducing the level of flight safety. Experts also note that the machine has convenient approaches to service areas, the helicopter has many easily removable hoods and panels, which makes the maintenance process as convenient as possible.

According to the general director of Kazan Aviation Enterprise JSC, maintenance contracts have been concluded with all three owners of helicopters, under which the owners have access to full warranty and post-warranty support.

Both the helicopter manufacturer and the engine developer, Safran Helicopter Engines, offer their customers service programs. Bell's Customer Advantage Plan provides predictable flight costs with a fixed rate per flight hour, priority access to parts and assemblies, and simple work planning. In turn, Safran in March 2017 signed the first 5Star Plan contract to support the engines of the first two helicopters received at the Bell Training Academy. 5Star Plan is designed for companies operating up to five helicopters. The package includes five levels of services, including planned and unscheduled events, access to a return-exchange pool of spare parts and replacement engines, extension of warranty and support.

Finally, in accordance with current trends, Bell provides operators of the 505th model access to the portal, which hosts technical publications, as well as technical and service bulletins.

Today in Russia there are three registered Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopters, but soon the fleet of vehicles of this type will increase. According to Sergei Filatov, Bell’s regional director for Russia and the CIS, several dozen of these helicopters are expected to be delivered to our region in the coming years, and their geography will expand. So, following the increase in the fleet, new service providers will appear in Russia, providing high-quality, efficient and affordable services.

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