The newest commercial machine currently under design at Bell Helicopter is new in so many ways.
First off, The Relentless 525 will be ”fly-by-wire” – in other words, there are all electronic controls (no wire cables) to physically move the airship in flight. Bell perfected fly-by-wire in their military attack helicopters (contracts for the armed services represent more than half of their business). It was building for the military that made Bell famous, the “Huey” built for the Vietnam War made them world leaders in their field.
Fly-by-wire means a computer sits between the pilots hand control and the rudders. Helicopters are notoriously difficult to control, the computer system on the Relentless handles some of the control demands so the pilot can keep his/her mind on the situtation. A perfect example is for the company (PHT) that has already committed to buying the Relentless: landing in strong open ocean winds onto a moving oil platform.
“In those most austere environments where you really need that situational awareness and ability to control the aircraft that is where fly by wire really earns it keep” says Larry Thimmesh, vice president of Bell’s commercial division.
The helicopter has the latest in technology. The cockpit is “all-glass” which means there are no gauges but instead L-E-D displays that merges control and navigation. The displays can be customized to the situation like flying around storms or moving up into a canyon.
Because of the fly-by-wire system Bell was able to move the controls. They are two handles on each side of the pilot that have replaced the traditional center stick. This improves visibility up front and control.
The helicopter is bigger, the configuration in the mock up (the picture above is how the Relentless will look like, it is not a flying model) carries 16 people plus cargo. It’s category is called “super-medium”, a niche Bell has never tried to compete in. It has a long range, over 400 miles, a real plus to reach the deep water rigs out in the gulf. It also goes faster, over 160mph so it can get to distant locations in shorter times.
Excerpted from a report by Jeff Ray. Click here to read the full article at CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.