Bell Offers Latest Model 407 for Navy Training Helicopter Requirement
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Bell’s Model 407GXi light helicopter will be the company’s offering for the upcoming competition for the new Navy training helicopter.
The Navy needs to replace its Bell TH-57 B/C helicopters that have been in service since the late 1960s.
The Bell 407GXi resembles the current TH-57 but features an advanced engine, a four-bladed rotor vice two, and a digital glass cockpit.
Mchael Nault, Bell’s program director for light helicopters, told reporters April 10 at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition that the 407GXi features a Garmand G1000H glass cockpit, with three multifunction displays — one of which is for training — and a new computer that features faster processing. The mission system has a WiFi system that can be used to upload mission planning from a mobile phone or tablet, without the need for the pilots to punch in mission data at the aircraft itself. The displays can feature a moving map and virtual terrain, called a synthetic vision system.
The engine installed is the Roll-Royce M250-C47E/4 turboshaft with dual full-authority digital control. The engine and the four-blade rotor provide so much power that the pilots do not need to concern themselves with weight and center of gravity, Nault said.
The mission system also includes the Helicopter Terrain Avoidance and Warning System and is night-vision goggle compatible.
The Bell 407 also is the airframe for the Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
The Navy has a requirement for 105 helicopters to replace its TH-57 fleet. The Navy has intended to lease rather than procure the new helicopters, but the Navy’s latest request for information indicates that the service may instead procure the aircraft, said Colin Smith, Bell’s manager for naval programs.
Nault said his company has built more than 1,500 Model 407s which together have accrued more than 4.75 million flight hours.