The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Bell Helicopter an experimental certificate renewal on July 7 2017, allowing the helicopter manufacturer to resume its flight test program of the 525 Relentless super-medium helicopter.
The return to flight came exactly one year and one day after Bell’s first Relentless prototype, N525TA, was destroyed when it came down in a field south-east of the manufacturer’s Arlington, Texas, Xworks facility in Ellis County, killing two test pilots.
“Bell Helicopter has worked with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and FAA since the accident and we are confident in the resumption of flight test activity,” said Bell Helicopter chief executive Mitch Snyder.
“The team is focused on certification in 2018 and we are committed to bringing this innovative and high-performing helicopter to market.”
While the investigation continues into the cause of the accident, it is understood investigators found the 525 prototype experienced rotor system vibration and frequency resonance in its airframe and flight control system seconds before the aircraft broke up in flight.
An examination of the wreckage indicated that main rotor blades had sliced through the helicopter’s tail boom and nose.
The NTSB said it hoped to complete their investigation before September.