The new Bell 525 promises enhanced safety, increased payload, and better flying dynamics than predecessors
Bell Helicopters is a leader in the rotor wing field, and has been in continuous operation since 1935. Founded by Lawrence Dale Bell in Buffalo, NY, Bell helicopters have evolved dramatically since the first model 47 rolled off the assembly line in late 1946. The 525 Relentless promises to be the most sophisticated medium-duty helicopter in production, with first flight in 2014 and certification anticipated in 2015. The goal with the 525 Relentless is to offer increased reliability and passenger safety, as well as an enhanced payload figure of at least 4,000 pounds or more, and the intuitive flying dynamics of a true fly-by-wire system. The full fly-by-wire configuration is the first of its kind anywhere, and promises to make the 525 less challenging to fly than other aircraft of similar design. One of the most important aspects of any helicopter is the overall safety factor. In this area, the 525 Relentless contains engineering and design attributes that will certainly foster a high level of reliability.
Filtration is one of the key methods to ensuring helicopter component reliability
Helicopters that operate in much the way the Relentless is destined for must contend with harsh conditions and the inevitability of damaging and intrusive materials like dust, sand, grit, and sea salt. Helicopters in this weight class are especially at home operating in tandem with offshore oilrigs, where the dangers of foreign object intrusion, bird strikes, and component damage due to particulate matter are real. To address the filtration needs of the new 525 Relentless, Bell has turned to Donaldson.
Founded in 1915 in Bloomington, Minnesota, Donaldson is a leader in the filtration market, and has been recognized for a continuous focus on research and development over the past five years. In fact, since 2008, Donaldson has spent at least $40 million per year on R&D, which has resulted in the firm being considered a leader in the filtration market. The new 525 Relentless will use Donaldson filters on the main gearbox, tail rotor gearbox, and the engine intakes. These filters promise to provide extreme protection for critical engine and transmission parts – especially important given the challenging missions these craft will see.
Offshore oilrig workers need reliable, safe transportation to and from the rig platform
In light of a recent, deadly incident in the UK regarding the Super Puma helicopter, more and more oilrig workers and industry groups are fighting for enhanced safety parameters and a more open look into the dangers of commuting to and from offshore platforms. The role of the helicopter in offshore platform commuting is substantial, as they act as taxis for the workers who must leave the platform and return to the mainland. There is no other economical or expedient way to move these workers, so the helicopter becomes the tool of choice. It is wise that Bell chose to partner with one of the leaders in the filtration market as sheer reliability and top performance are two key characteristics of any helicopter destined for a utility role, like the 525 Relentless.