Bell Helicopter and Rolls-Royce announced the selection of Uniflight LLC to develop, manufacture and market an upgrade kit that will enable retrofit of the Bell 206B/L fielded fleet with the Rolls- Royce newly developed RR500 engine.
“Bell Helicopter remains focused on supporting our legacy fleet of helicopters,” said R Danny Maldonado, Senior Vice President Customer Support and Chief Services Officer. “We have invested significant resources and funding into developing a comprehensive product strategy for our legacy aircraft.” Bell Helicopter’s legacy support strategy includes initiatives designed to enhance mission capabilities and increase overall productivity, including product development, retrofits, modifications, upgrades and obsolescence management.
This engine upgrade is just one of many steps that Bell Helicopter will be undertaking to accomplish this objective with respect to its legacy 206 fleet. “For many years the Bell 206 was the industry standard in the light helicopter class. It has a loyal following and continues to bring superior value to civil and paramilitary missions across the globe,” said Joe Hawke, President and Chief Executive Officer, Uniflight.
“We are pleased to team with Bell Helicopter and Rolls-Royce to develop a cost effective, performance-enhancing upgrade kit for the 206 community.” The RR500 engine provides 206 operators with higher performance capabilities and lower direct operating costs.
“At Rolls-Royce we are committed to investing in core technologies that can be used multiple times across a family of engines and create new market opportunities. Installing the RR500 turboshaft engine on the 206 is an important step forward for our business, offering operators more power and takeoff capabilities in hot-high conditions,” said Chris Fultz, Rolls-Royce Programme Director for the RR500.
The upgrade kit will be certified by Uniflight through the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) process. Formal agreements are currently under negotiation and further announcements will be forthcoming.
“Industry alliances, such as the one with Uniflight and Rolls-Royce, will play a large role in Bell Helicopter’s legacy support strategy,” said Maldonado. “We look forward to working with both Rolls-Royce and Uniflight as the STC approval process develops over the next 12 to 24 months.
”Uniflight is a long-time platinum-level Bell Helicopter authorized customer service facility based in North Texas, servicing Bell models 205, 206A, B and L series, 212, 222, 230, 407, 412, 430, UH-1H, UH-1H II and OH-58. More than four thousand 206-series helicopters have been produced since its inception in 1965. The last 206B JetRanger was delivered in December 2010. The Bell 206L LongRanger remains in production.