In mid-January, 20-degree temperatures in Texas coupled with substantial wind gusts and the threat of snow almost placed me directly in the right seat of a Bell 505 simulator instead of the real helicopter. But with conditions improving upon my arrival at Bell’s Fort Worth, Texas factory, it was announced, with great relief to me, that the flight in Bell’s 505 Jet Ranger X would take place as planned.
Championed by Bell as the most advanced light single in the market, the 505 Jet Ranger X offers first-in-class features including a dual-channel Fadec and fully integrated Garmin G1000H flight deck. Designed to echo the storied career of the B206-series JetRanger while advancing its class’s legacy into the future, the 505 is suitable for utility, corporate, parapublic, and training mission profiles.
Bell is working on utility options for the 505 and expects to certify a cargo hook later this year. With commercial deliveries continuing to climb along with letters of intent, the helicopter is retaining its welcomed entrance into the market.
During the pre-flight briefing session, I engaged with Tim Otteson, who would be the demo pilot for the day, and Chase Hawkins, who serves as Bell’s maintenance coordinator for the demo fleet. The exceptional knowledge base of Otteson and Hawkins became immediately evident as we began discussing the 505. I was particularly interested in how it fared in comparison to the 206 series.
“The flight characteristics of the 505 are very similar to [those of] the 206,” said Otteson. “It has the same teetering-style underslung rotor system that you’ll find on a 206L4. The tail rotor drive shaft is a little bit longer on the 505 and the tail rotor has a lot more authority. The transmission is mounted to the fuselage in a different manner than [on] the 206 with liquid inertia vibration-eliminating mounts. You’ll find the 505 to have a much smoother ride than a typical 206.”
With a higher gross weight, full-fuel payload, and useful load compared to the 206, the 505 also features 504 takeoff shp compared to the 420 shp of the 206. Priced at approximately $1 million, the 505 has a max range of 360 nm. The 505 is powered by the Safran Helicopter Engines Arrius 2R, controlled by a dual-channel Fadec. “It is a much more powerful, responsive, and modern engine,” Otteson said. “It’s a lot more powerful than what you’re used to in a 206.”