HELO FLIGHTCHECK

Bell's very fast 429: $4.865 mil, 2+6 seats or EMS mode, 2.25 hrs

Latest 142-kt twin with optional rear swing-wide double doors is aimed at medevac, military, recon, biz markets.


Bell 429 specifications  
Price  
Basic equipped
$4.865 m
Powerplants
(2) P&WC_PW207D1
Total power (SL, ISA)
598 shp ea
Max continuous
586 shp ea
Dimensions  
Length, rotors turning (ft)
43 ft 0 in
Main rotor diameter
36 ft 0 in
Fuselage width
5 ft 4 in
Height, tail fin
13 ft 4 in
Cabin length
6 ft 7 in
Cabin width
5 ft 0 in
Cabin height
4 ft 1 in
Pax cabin volume (cu ft)
200.0
Baggage compartment volume
74.0
Normal seating, crew/pax
2/6
EMS seating, crew/med/patient
2/3/2
Weights  
Max gross weight  
w/internal load (lbs)
7,000
w/external load
7,000
Empty weight
4,300
Useful load
2,700
Vh (skid gear configuration)
142 kts
Vh (wheel gear configuration)
147 kts
Fuel capacity (US gals)
215
Performance  
Rate of climb (fpm)  
HIGE (ISA) (ft)
12,000
HOGE (ISA) (ft)
11,000
Service ceiling
20,000
Max cruise speed
142 kts
Max range
350 nm
Range (LRC)
350 nm
Max endurance (at Vh)
2 hr 15 min
Data supplied by Bell Helicopter  

Start-up

Throttles for both engines are of the twist-grip type on the collective. They are set to either "idle" or "fly" before start. Turning on the Batt switch powers up the cockpit.

The Rogerson and Kratos flat panel displays light up immediately, showing a pilot flight display (PFD) left and right with a multifunction display (MFD) in the center.

The MFD is dedicated to EICAS functions, with all critical system parameters laid out in a logical format.

System abnormalities are displayed as flashing messages in the color appropriate to the severity of the problem.

Throttles for both engines are of the twist-grip type on the collective.

They are set to either "idle" or "fly" before start. Turning on the Batt switch powers up the cockpit.

The Rogerson and Kratos flat panel displays light up immediately, showing a pilot flight display (PFD) left and right with a multifunction display (MFD) in the center.

The MFD is dedicated to EICAS functions, with all critical system parameters laid out in a logical format.

System abnormalities are displayed as flashing messages in the color appropriate to the severity of the problem.

Each system diagram can be brought up for display via line select keys on the MFD. All 3 displays are the same part number, which reduces spares stocking and replacement problems.

Should one of the displays fail, the automatic reversion mode brings critical data up on the remaining displays.

The 429 is a single-pilot IFR aircraft. Two separate 3-axis autopilots are available full-time, along with dual stability control and augmentation systems (SCAS).

The lowest level of help is force trim, as in the 429's predecessors.

Two hydraulic systems plus a reversionary system power the flight controls.

Engine start is typical FADEC. A Start Select switch is moved to either engine, where it is held magnetically until the start is complete, then the Start switch for that engine is placed in the "run" position.

The engine will start and accelerate to either idle or fly, depending on where the throttle on the collective is set. With one engine running, the pilot selects the Start Select switch to the other engine and repeats the procedure.

Preflight and hover

Reflecting the fine design of the 429's systems, pre-takeoff checks are simple. To ensure normal functioning, each hydraulic system is turned off and the flight controls exercised.

Each autopilot is set to test mode. Then, with its systems checked, the test light signals normal functioning by going dark. Garmin 530 and 430 nav comm units are standard in the 429, so radios are set up and a flightplan entered.

The course and waypoint string are then displayed on the nav portion of the PFD. We called SoCal Tracon for a takeoff clearance from the Anaheim Stadium parking lot.

We were required to request a clearance and be assigned a discrete squawk code because Disneyland is a permanent TFR since Sep 11. With clearance granted, I picked the 429 up to a hover. Controls were smooth and predictable, and the hover was easy to stabilize.

With a 180° pedal turn to the right, we hovered out to the departure spot, taxiing by several other helicopter company demonstrators. Winds were light and variable, the weather typical southern California-scattered clouds at 3000 ft and visibility 15 miles.

Putting the 429 through its paces

Local airspace control required us to climb so that we were at least 1000 ft MSL before leaving the stadium boundary, so we executed a max-performance departure. Takeoff weight, with nearly full fuel and 2 passengers in the cabin, was 6400 lbs-according to Bertrand this is 600 lbs below MGTOW.

Setting an initial climb rate of 3000 fpm required only 60% of max takeoff power-this is indicated on a single-limit indicator (SLI) display, with each of the takeoff critical parameters shown on the SLI scale for reference.

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