FORT WORTH, Texas (September 7, 2010) - Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company is pleased to announce the introduction of a best in class certification of precision Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) enabled glide path capability on the Bell 429.
The Bell 429 is the only helicopter available in the market with this technology certified for 9 degree localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at a minimum velocity for instrument procedures (Vmini) of 45 knots. Such a low minimum velocity allows for the Bell 429 to fly LPV procedures in steep approach conditions.
Using a modernized cockpit layout and navigation solutions the Bell WAAS capability, as demonstrated on the Bell 429, increases helicopter safety, mission efficiency and environmental sensitivity, while reducing precision approach limitations and associated operational costs. Many flights are grounded annually due to poor weather conditions, the WAAS capability allows for point-in-space approaches as low as 250 foot visibility, increasing operational mission time for Bell 429 customers.
Presenting a best in class navigational capability, Bell's 429 WAAS implementation changes the helicopter operating environment, allowing for the creation of a safer rotorcraft IFR system, providing a platform to put those capabilities to use and allowing for precision approaches in low altitude, urban areas.
Designed, developed, implemented and tested by a government industry partnership led by Bell Helicopter, the continuing airspace infrastructure project will facilitate the creation of public use rotorcraft solutions and provide a solid framework for additional next generation national airspace developments.
The Bell Helicopter led team includes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Program Office, the FAA Flight Standards Organization, Hickok and Associates, Air Methods Corporation, and the Mercy Medical Team.
"It is because of this collaboration we are able to provide the helicopter industry and our customers with innovative solutions that exceed their mission requirements," said Nick Lappos, Bell Helicopter chief technology officer. "It is only fitting that this capability be available exclusively on the world's most advanced light twin helicopter, the 429."
Bell's WAAS technologies include glide path angles certified to 9 degrees at speeds of 45 knots, allowing 429 customers to operate their aircraft at a safer altitude, avoid obstacles and descend precisely to their landing site.
"Bell's 429 will now be equipped with cutting edge, state-of-the-art navigational technology and LPV capability," said Larry D. Roberts, senior vice president, commercial business. "The 429 is the only helicopter in its class capable of performing fully coupled four axis auto-pilot LPV approaches, this is a significant development and capability."
This technology is available immediately on all new Bell 429s delivered out of the Bell Helicopter Mirabel, Canada facility. Bell Helicopter is exploring the use of this technology on additional Bell aircraft.
"WAAS technologies, when combined with the 429, provide all operators engaged in IFR operations a vehicle to complete missions that were unthinkable in the past. This total aircraft solution will increase the number of missions that are flown and ultimately save more lives," said Roberts.