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Business Air News Bulletin
Business Air News Bulletin
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.

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Bell, a Textron Company
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Heli Service Belgium
Charter

Helicopter Maintenance Ltd
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Me & My Aircraft: Dependable and versatile Bell 206B lacks speed, operators report
Operators rate the Bell 206B JetRanger as one of the most dependable single engine helicopters. Helga Bihlmaier of Egle Air Services (EAS) says: "It is the most economical turbine helicopter and the worst thing is that Bell is discontinuing production.

Operators rate the Bell 206B JetRanger as one of the most dependable single engine helicopters. Helga Bihlmaier of Egle Air Services (EAS) says: "It is the most economical turbine helicopter and the worst thing is that Bell is discontinuing production. The best thing is the long cabin at the most economical cost."

Respondents to EBAN's survey praised the 206B as sturdy, reliable, dependable and versatile. They were also overwhelmingly very satisfied (two-thirds) or satisfied (one-third) with maintenance, operating capability, dispatch rate and value.

Rise Helicopters has a sister company, Helicopter Maintenance Ltd, that does its maintenance. Rise Helicopters' senior operations manager Gill Peacey says there are also no difficulties in obtaining spare parts. "We have a strong working relationship with all of our suppliers which means that spare parts are readily available." The company, which has added commercial flight training, flight instructor training and type rating courses to its traditional PPL(H) remit, has three Bell 206 JetRangers in its 10-strong fleet.

Capt. James Kenwright, chief pilot, says the company, formed in June 2005, provides corporate days, pleasure flights and wedding and business charters as well as helicopter maintenance, training and type ratings.

But the owners and operators would like to see improvements. BenAir's Bruno Budim reports: "The worst thing is the turbine start sequence which is too sensitive but we could get that corrected with an appropriate injection system upgrade and the installation of a hot start prevention system."

The most desirable upgrade, he says, is a good avionics upgrade such as G600 retrofit. Thierry Soumagne of Heli Service Belgium NV says he would like an improvement in the space for the aft passengers and in the speed, with modernisation desirable. But Heidelberg Helicopters would like to see an extension of the engine and TT (tension-torsion) straps.

Joel Tobias dislikes the "unscheduled maintenance and time limited components that seem to be fully serviceable but still require changing." He says the most desirable upgrades would include a glass cockpit, improved operating speed and auto pilot. Another operator says that it is difficult to deal with client expectations that the Bell 206B should perform as a later generation aircraft.

Ruud Clements of Van Hessen NV praises the looks and the low skid version but would like a VOR instrument upgrade and Vidar Grindheim of Westwing Helicopters criticises the lack of power and lift capability while Anthony Aspinall would like less external noise. Hans Joachim Hamann of Trigema GmbH & Co criticises the low cruising speed.

He is among the many operators that are satisfied with the value but would like to be able to fly the Bell 206B faster.

Manufacturer's comment

Bell says: "We appreciate the loyalty the JetRanger has in the market- place and understand people's disappointment with our decision to wind down production. However we continue to believe it is the right decision for Bell and will give us more production capacity for our more popular models. And the 206L4 is still available and it has many of the same features people like in the Jet Ranger.

"For our 206B JetRanger as well as our other legacy products, Bell continuously monitors the voice of our customers to identify potential upgrades and improvements which could benefit us both.

"For our continuing single engine aircraft products (407 and 206L), Bell has conducted a comprehensive market review of helicopter performance requirements and has noted similar areas in which our customers would like to see improvement. Each of the upgrades noted in our study are being evaluated to determine if or when significant improvements can be incorporated into our production line."

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