Stylish hard worker: why is the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X better than the "classmates" in aviation
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Stylish hard worker: why is the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X better than the "classmates" in aviation

The new Bell 505 Jet Ranger X should replace the “grandfather” Bell 206 in its class, produced from 1962 to 2010. The descendant has a more spacious cabin, better visibility and improved aerodynamics. Despite its sporty appearance, the helicopter is ready for a wide range of aviation work, and it has something to present to competitors in its class.


Quickly adapts to any flight


From transporting personnel to patrolling pipelines and transporting cargo on an external sling, the new Bell 505 Jet Ranger X is ready to change for different tasks. In this he is helped by several design decisions.


First of all, the internal volume of the cockpit was increased by the recombination of avionics and instruments. The top panel does not take up as much space as it was in previous Bell models. Only the fuel stopcock, rotor brake, air navigation toggle switch, headset hooks and air conditioning vents remained on the ceiling.


Former Bell 206 helicopter pilot Mick Cullen noted the increased headroom: “I remember when I was in the army, tall pilots regularly touched the Kiowa ceiling (Bell 206 army version) when they wore helmets. The Bell 505 has no such problem. ”


The Bell 505 cab is a fully open space with two seats in front and three in the rear. At the same time, the cabin windows go almost to the floor, and the rear seats are slightly elevated in relation to the front ones, which allows the rear seats to have a better view. For aerial work, the rear seats can be folded, increasing the volume of the cabin to accommodate cargo inside.


With the rear seats retracted inside the cabin, cargo of 2,8 cubic meters weighing up to 680 kilograms can be accommodated. In addition, the seats can be easily removed and placed in the trunk of the helicopter, or, if you want to reduce take-off weight, left on the ground. Bell 505 can carry any load weighing up to 907 kilograms on an external load.


The front seats are located on rails along which they can be moved forward and backward. Interestingly, the rails for seats are, in fact, the only protruding part of the floor surface in a helicopter. The rest of the surface is completely flat. At the same time, the cabin doors are huge in area in comparison with previous models. All this makes placing people and luggage in the cabin easier and saves loading and loading times. Behind the cabin there is a roomy trunk with a volume of 0,5 cubic meters, access to which is through a separate door 56 cm wide and 42 centimeters high.


“Outside the“ screen effect ”, the maximum height with a maximum take-off weight of about 2030 kilograms with a load on the external sling is about 3500 feet,” said pilot Mick Cullen, “After selecting the cargo, the helicopter in standard weather conditions can climb at a vertical speed of 1000 feet per minute at maximum continuous thrust (max continuous power), while he still has a margin of power. “I know a cameraman in New Zealand who regularly uses the Bell 505 in the mountains to transport 725-775 kilograms of cargo, while sometimes carrying 850 kilograms on an external load.”


Improved design for cost savings


Sometimes the new is the well-proven old. Some elements of the Bell 505 — rotor blades, transmission, tail rotor drive shaft, tail rotor gearbox and tail rotor assembly — are from the Bell 206L4 LongRanger. At the same time, the lighter cabin and tail boom of the Bell 505 reduce the load on the blades of the previous model.


The design of the reverse aerodynamic profile of the horizontal stabilizer, as in almost all helicopters, creates a downward force on the tail when moving in the forward direction, which leads to a more even inclination and an increase in flight range. The stabilizer has a leading edge with slots, which is a new feature of the Bell 505 design. It delays airflow separation at large angles of attack that the horizontal stabilizer may experience when lifting.


Another interesting feature of the tail is counterbalances that dampen vibration. These are square “garlands” attached to the end of the tail boom using a stiff wire staple that attenuates the airframe vibration. The tail boom can also be a fastening place for any ballast weights, while conveniently, finding them in the tail allows you to use very small weights to adjust the center of gravity.


According to pilot Tim Otteson, who regularly flies on the Bell 505, the new helicopter retained all the advantages of its predecessor: “It has the same rotor system as the Bell206L4. The tail rotor drive shaft on the Bell 505 is slightly longer, and the tail rotor has a lot more traction. The gearbox is mounted on the fuselage differently than on the Bell 206, using liquid inertial shock absorbers. Because of this, the Bell 505 has a much smoother ride than the Bell 206. ”


The use of the “glass cabin” with two multifunctional displays Garmin G1000H is the most striking difference between the Bell 505 and its competitors in this class. Usually, the right display is set up to show an artificial horizon, speed indicator and altimeter. The indication is located on top of the three-dimensional landscape display from the database, which as an additional option provides a “synthetic vision” of the landscape in front of the aircraft.


The left display usually shows a page of engine operating modes, where the readings of the power sensor and rotor speed are located. Power is displayed on the digital arc as a percentage, while 100% is the maximum continuous thrust (max continuous power), after which there is a yellow arc showing the five-minute range of maximum take-off thrust. When the arrow moves to the yellow sector of the arc, a timer appears showing the elapsed time in this mode. 


The values ​​of torque, MGT (measured gas temperature) and engine speed are shown in a green frame next to the current limit settings. The entire display is positioned in such a way that makes motor power control incredibly simple. 

Also, the second display can be switched to map mode, where you can see information about airspace, find out the aerodrome frequencies, see weight and balance options, and also enable visualization of the elevation of the terrain. In addition, the weight of the placed cargo can be added to the on-board computer so that the system automatically calculates the alignment of the helicopter. In the future, it is planned to add data on weather conditions.


“After the helicopters of previous generations, the Bell 505 avionics is like a life hack for pilots,” says pilot Mick Cullen, “The pilot no longer needs to make complicated calculations. The multifunctional MFD display constantly displays fuel consumption, estimated fuel remaining after landing, expected landing weight and fuel reserve. ”


All this is complemented by the power of the Safran Helicopter Engine Arrius 2R, which allows the Bell 505 to fly at speeds of 230 km / h for a range of more than 560 kilometers. The engine is controlled by Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), which reduces the pilot's workload. Moreover, only Bell 505 in this class of helicopters has a two-channel system. According to pilot Tom Otteson, this is a much more powerful engine and gives the Bell 505 much more thrust than its predecessor, the Bell 206.


Как Bell 505 conquers the European market from competitors


“The Bell 505 was a worldwide success for Bell,” Patrick Muleay, Bell Senior Vice President of International Business, told reporters. According to him, after deliveries began in March 2017, by June 2018, 100 helicopters of this model had already been sold, and by August 2019 the list of Bell 505 sold had increased to 200. In 2019, Bell 505 helicopters began to be delivered to 10 European countries. including the UK, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland and Russia.


The Federal Air Transport Agency issued a certificate of the type FATA-01014R to the Bell 505 in April 2019. According to Alexander Evdokimov, the head of Jet Transfer, Bell’s official representative in Russia, six Bell 505 helicopters have already been ordered by Russian customers. According to his estimates, Jet Transfer will be able to sell 20 helicopters of this model per year, and the total demand in the Russian market now is about 200 boards.


Patrick Mulay notes that their new helicopter confidently occupied a significant market share, moving its “classmates”: the 1,2-ton Robinson R66 and the 1,7-ton Eurocopter H120. Obviously, this was due to the Bell 505 having several important advantages.


For example, if you compare the maximum take-off weight of the Eurocopter H120 and Bell 505 with a load on the external sling, it turns out that for a European helicopter it is 1800 kilograms, while the new Bell helicopter can take off with a lot of weight: up to 2040 kilograms. The difference in weight limits on the suspension is also in favor of the Bell 505. For the Eurocopter H120, the maximum weight of the external load cannot be higher than 700 kilograms, while the Bell 505 can carry 207 kilograms more.


At the same time, the cost of a Bell 505 flight hour is lower than that of the Eurocopter H120. When calculating the cost, the Bell 505 flight in the cruise mode of fuel consumption of 120 liters (32 gallons) per hour was taken into account at a cost of $ 4 for 3,7 liters (1 gallon). Thus, taking into account fuel, the cost of a Bell 505 flight hour is $ 441, while its competitor Eurocopter H120 has $ 501.


Compared to the Robinson R66, the new Bell 505 compares favorably with several factors. First of all, it is two times more spacious cabin: 1,8 cubic meters in R66 versus 2,2 cubic meters in Bell 505. Moreover, in Bell 505 the space occupied by the pilot is not taken into account when calculating.


Not surprisingly, though, the Bell 505 can carry more payload with it. When comparing the two helicopters, it turns out that the maximum take-off weight of the Bell 505, without external load, is greater than that of the R66: 1669 kg versus 1224 kg. At the same time, the Bell 505 can fly significantly higher than its competitor from the previous generation of helicopters. While the R66 will not be able to rise above 14 feet, the Bell 000 will continue to climb to 505 feet.


An important component is the efficiency of operation. So, when calculating all expenses, it turns out that the cost of a Bell 505 flight hour is only 10% higher than that of its competitor R66.


Given the merits of the Bell 505, Mulei is confident that, thanks to its characteristics, the new helicopter will be able to conquer a new segment of the aviation work market, having moved on it the 2,7-ton competitor Eurocopter H125.


“The H125 has been a leader in the aircraft business for several years, but I think the Bell 505 can easily replace it during most missions. Why spend money on a more expensive H125, for example, for pipeline inspection, if you can do it with the more economical Bell 505? ”Patrick Mulei believes.


According to Bell 505 and Bell 429 Helicopter Program Director La Chan Bonaparte, Bell 505 has an important advantage over its competitors. “What sets the Bell 505 apart from other lightweight single-engine helicopters is its versatility. Our goal in the initial design of the Bell 505 was to create an industry-leading helicopter. Apparently, we succeeded, because as the needs of helicopter operators grow, we continue to observe the growth of our customer base 505, ”said La Chan Bonaparte.


In Russia, the first customer of Bell 505 was the Ural Civil Aviation Plant (UZGA), which purchased two helicopters. One of the Bell 505 owned by UZGA was later acquired by a businessman from the Novgorod region. Maintenance of the helicopters will be carried out by JSC Kazan Aviation Enterprise (KAP). As the general director of KAP Magomed Zakarzhaev told reporters, two more similar helicopters are being prepared for the flyby, which will be operated by owners from Moscow and Pervouralsk. In November 2019, KAP received an extension of their MRO certificate to perform work on a Bell 505 helicopter with Arrius 2R engines.


Easy to learn, easy to “fight”


Pilot training for the new Bell 505 is overseen by Bell, which announced the launch of new certified training facilities (CTF). They will use several Bell helicopters, including 505, and will help support the rapidly growing international demand for new types of helicopters.


“We are focused on providing local support solutions for our international customer base throughout the life cycle of their aircraft, and CTF will play a key role in this,” Patrick Mulay told reporters.


Bell Training Manager Chad Oakley added: “Training has been an integral part of Bell's after-sales program for over 65 years. We have trained more than 140 clients in more than 000 countries around the world, and we look forward to expanding our global training network with strategically located certified schools. ”


One of the first CTFs and the first certified training center for the Bell 505 will be provided by Helideal, Bell's representative in France. The company will offer initial training and retraining of pilots under the auspices of the Bell Training Academy, operating various helicopters, including the Bell 505. The French company has been training helicopter pilots for over 25 years and began training pilots at the Bell 505 in January 2019. In November 2019, the Federal Air Transport Agency certified Helideal, allowing the training of Russian pilots on the Bell 505. The certificate with the number "55 / z" allows you to undergo training or retraining of pilots with subsequent validation by the Russian aviation authorities.