The impetus for developing the Bell 429 came primarily from the emergency medical services (EMS) industry, which has been looking for an updated helicopter. The Bell 427 was originally intended to address this market, but the 427's small cabin size would not adequately accommodate a patient litter, and the systems did not support instrument flight rules (IFR) certification. Bell's original concept for the 429 was a stretched model 427 (unveiled as the Bell 427s3i at the 2004 HAI helicopter show), but this still did not provide what Bell and its customer advisers were looking for.
Bell abandoned the 427 airframe and went to its MAPL (Modular Affordable Product Line) concept airframe that was still in conceptual development at the time. The 429 employs the all-new modular airframe concept and the advanced rotor blade design from the MAPL program, but maintains a derivative engine and rotor drive system from the 427. The basic model will include a glass cockpit and will be certified for single pilot IFR. Bell partnered with Korea Aerospace Industries and Mitsui Bussan Aerospace of Japan in the helicopter's development.
Bell had flown most of the critical MAPL technology components using a 427 test bed aircraft by February 2006. The first completed 429 flew February 27, 2007. Certification was originally planned for late 2007, but program schedule delays, primarily caused by parts and material shortages common to all aviation manufacturers in this time period, caused the manufacturer to stretch the development timetable. The helicopter received type certification from Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) on July 1, 2009.
Specifications (Bell 429)
Data from Bell Helicopters 429 product specs, Flug Revue Bell 429 page
Published in July 2009.
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