Swiss operator Heli-Alps has added a Bell 505 to its fleet. “We have been flying the Bell 429 and we are quite confident with these types of helicopters,” says VP and COO Jean-Daniel Berthod. “Before the 505 went into production, on paper it looked like a nice machine. We used to fly the Bell 206 a long time ago, and the aerodynamic components are similar. We don't feel as though we are taking a big risk by buying such a helicopter. The layout of the cabin and view for the passengers, not to mention the start-up procedure, are all good.”
The company has operated a flying school since 1987, and trains private pilots on the Robinson R22, R44 or Cabri. After completing their private pilot licence, all cadets can progress to a turbine helicopter. “The only solution we had up to now was to give them the EC120 or the AS350, which are a bit expensive for most of the private pilots,” explains Berthod. “By buying the 505 we are allowing our private pilots to make the step up to their first turbine helicopter at quite a reasonable price.
“It is an easy machine to start and fly. Some of the other machines are more difficult and there is a risk of over limits. On the 505 we have dual FADEC, which means that even an inexperienced pilot can start it; you just turn a button and that's it.”
Since 2005, Heli-Alps has been active in passenger transportation and heliskiing as well as flight training. Recently it has been using an external cargo sling with the helicopters, and this is an area it is looking to expand.
“We will continue all of our current operations and will add new operations like helibiking. We will also expand our offer to student pilots, using latest generation helicopters,” Berthod concludes.