The first customer delivered Bell 429, N911ED, began EMS operations in late March with Mercy One Air Ambulance in Des Moines, Iowa.
The 429 performed its first medical mission on March 29 when it was tasked to respond to a car accident involving a police vehicle late in the afternoon. A male police officer was airlifted on board the 429 to the Iowa Methodist Medical Center.
Since making its first flight on February 27 2007, Bell’s new twin has accumulated around 2500 flight test hours with Bell recently completing flight test certification work on a skid mounted floatation system, the helicopter’s 3000lb external cargo hook, front and rear equipment mountings and 600lb retractable human external cargo (HEC) rescue hoist. Results from the tests are now being documented for FAA certification approval.
A retractable landing gear version of the 429 is still on the drawing board as Bell says it’s still receiving interest from customers requiring the ability to ground taxi.
Production of the 429 is gathering pace with between two to three helicopters currently being produced per month. Bell is working towards a production rate of four to five per month before the end of the year.
Australian Aviation understands a local EMS operator is actively looking at the Bell 429 as a replacement machine.
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