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Aircraft Spotlight: Bell 505 – Asian Sky Quarterly 2020 Q2

Aircraft Spotlight: Bell 505 – Asian Sky Quarterly 2020 Q2

The 505 is a five-seater, flat-floor cabin, light single turbine engine helicopter. Loaded with the latest technology from Garmin G1000H NXi avionics to a Safran dual channel FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), the 505 is Bell’s entry level offering seeking to recapture a market once owned by the Bell 206 Jet Ranger. The powerful 505 SHP engine, 2,295 lb external load capability, and open, high visibility cabin, have opened the 505 up to compete with traditionally larger aircraft markets such as public safety, HEMS, and long lining.

The 505 was unveiled in 2013, at the Paris Air Show, and formally introduced in 2014 at the HAI Expo in Anaheim, California. The Bell 505 Jet Ranger X was designed to fill a gap in product offering left by the Bell 206B Jet Ranger when it was discontinued in 2010. The 505 continues the Jet Ranger legacy, utilizing the rotor and drive system from the venerable 206 Long Ranger, with a modernized cockpit, improved engine power, and versatile open cabin.

There are over 260 505s operating in 46 countries. The 505 fleet has flown over 45,000 hours in less than three years. The 505 is put to work every day in a wide variety of mission from private individuals flying for fun, long lining operators taking supplies and crew high into the mountains, militaries training their future pilots, or police agencies keeping their cities safe. 

The 505 is the most advanced short light single helicopter on the market today. The Garmin G1000H NXi avionics and dual channel FADEC provide enhanced situational awareness and reduced pilot workload to help pilots and operators ensure every mission is a success. The Garmin G1000H NXi provides flight and engine parameters in an easy to read, color coded, display that combines with aural headset alerts to ensure the pilot has a complete picture of the aircraft’s current status. This primary flight display includes the Bell unique Power Situation Indicator (PSI) and dual tachometer that combines five traditional engine and rotor displays into two easy to read gauges that provide color coded engine parameters. 

Embedded sensors around the aircraft provide critical information to the cockpit helping the pilot more quickly identify, solve, and react to any potential problems. The dual channel FADEC utilizes a redundant channel control system to maintain the turbine engine at peak performance. This FADEC allows the 505 to eliminate any mechanical throttle linkage and provide single switch automated starting that eliminates the chance for a pilot induced hot start. Digital engine control provides smooth and consistent rotor speed as well as better fuel economy by setting fuel flow to the optimized limit based on the required power setting. The engine control system also includes a 3rd backup channel that, in the unlikely event of a FADEC failure, would keep fuel flowing to the engine to allow the pilot to bring the aircraft to the ground safely. 

Tim Otteson, former U.S. army pilot and current Bell demo pilot details his trust in the 505:“The Bell 505 Jet Ranger X does a magnificent job of blending proven technologies like the 206L4 drive train with a state-of-the-art Dual Channel FADEC and glass cockpit. I have had the privilege of flying the 505 in locations as diverse as the Himalayas and the Dead Sea. The avionics suite has kept me from getting lost in places I’ve never been and gives me power I can feel confident in. I was able to land at and depart from the Annapurna Basecamp, Nepal with 5 people on board at a density altitude of approximately 15,500 or so feet. My time flying the 505 in Nepal did nothing but increase my confidence in the aircraft and its ability to operate in the world’s mountainous environments.”

The Garmin G1000H NXi utilizes a second screen, called the Multi-Function Display or MFD, to display a series of maps, charts, weight & balance diagrams, and other supporting information key to providing enhanced situational awareness and reducing the pilot’s overall workload. The MFD also allows pilots to process live data such as weather, traffic, and terrain to ensure the complete situational picture is presented allowing pilots to make the best possible decisions while flying. With optional Synthetic Vision, terrain and traffic are presented on the Primary Flight Display similar to how it would appear outside of the windscreen. Terrain is color coded based on the aircraft’s proximity and paired with aural alerts to help key pilots to look for impending problems. Utilizing the optional Flight Stream 510, pilots can also automatically upload flight plans and database updates from a compatible portable device. The Flight Stream 510 also allows for a portable device to be used as a third screen for further situational awareness.

The 505’s open cabin, easily removeable seats, and integrated tie downs provides the ultimate in versatility for operators around the world. The 505 is quickly able to convert from moving passengers or crew to cargo and goods with tool free removal of seats. The 505’s cabin boasts best in class 99 cubic feet of usable volume and a 18 cubic foot cargo bay providing ample space for passenger baggage or important cargo. The Bell 505 includes a 2000 lb cargo hook capability providing additional uses for operators to serve the community or add revenue streams to their business. 

While new to the market, the 505’s rotor and drive system have millions of combined flight hours. The 505 utilizes the same high inertia rotor system from the 206 Long Ranger. A high inertia rotor system provides the pilot more time to react to an engine failure and enter an auto rotation without the rotor slowing down too much, providing a better cushion and a safer landing. The millions of flight hours on these systems provide operators the assurance of reliability knowing that they can not only trust the operating cost numbers, but they can also rely on the aircraft to be ready to go each and every day for their needs.  

The 505’s open cabin, easily removeable seats, and integrated tie downs provides the ultimate in versatility for operators around the world.

The Bell 505 utilizes the 505 SHP Safran Arrius 2R. This is the first Safran engine product to be used by Bell. The Arrius 2R is the newest offering in the Arrius family of engines that has accumulated millions of successful flight hours through multiple OEMs products all over the world. The Arrius 2R provides a variety of features that add to the reliability and safety of the 505 from the dual channel FADEC to the Flame Out Protection System (FOPS). The FOPS provides a preference flame tube that has its own fuel line and bypass valve. In the event of a fuel blockage, the preference flame tube would re-light the engine maintaining thrust and safety of flight. The Arrius 2R provides best in class power to the 505 giving the aircraft the ability to hover at over 10,000 feet out of ground effect and have a service ceiling of up to 22,500 ft density altitude. The Arrius 2R is comprised of 2 modular sections to ease overhauls and replacements, a hot section and a gear box section.

The Bell 505 provides hydraulically powered cyclic and collective controls to maintain low control forces. A panel mounted switch allows pilots to cycle hydraulic power on and off to provide additional training opportunities for new pilots to practice flying through hydraulic failures. 

The Bell 505 utilizes the Maintenance Steering Group 3 (MSG-3) methodology commonly found in commercial airlines maintainer groups. MSG-3 utilizes industry experts to create an analytically backed program to ensure logical inspection and overhaul scheduling that allows for maximum aircraft availability. Maintenance operations are also grouped by their location on the airframe to ensure maintainers are accomplishing as many tasks as logical when entering certain access panels or maintenance locations. MSG-3 aids in increasing aircraft availability and lowers operating costs, bringing a more modern and analytical maintenance program to the operator. 

Being the most recently certified Short Light Single helicopter on the market, the 505 meets the latest safety standards. The Bell 505 features standard crash attenuating seats, a crash resistant fuel system, and 4-point seat belts for all occupants. Technology like the Garmin G1000H NXi integrated avionics suite and dual channel FADEC create the additional situation awareness and reduced pilot workload that benefit pilots of all experience levels. 

Many 505 operators will attest that the 505s many redundant systems create a level of security that allow their pilots to learn and confidently fly the 505 faster than other aircraft, allowing them to integrate the aircraft into their operations more quickly.


In Asia Pacific, PT. Whitesky relies on their two Bell 505s for air taxi/charter and medical evacuation for their HeliCity project in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I have to be honest with you, the first time I saw the 505 in Dallas I knew it was the perfect helicopter for Jakarta and our project, HeliCity. With our experience working in these types of operations, it can be difficult to learn to operate several different machines at once. The 505 is easy for pilots to learn, with its advanced avionics and FADEC computer systems. The FADEC is a safety feature that’s nice for us. Instead of needing a twin-engine helicopter, we have the three levels of redundancy in a single engine helicopter.

PT. Whitesky CEO, Denon Prawiraatmadia