It was on this day in aviation history that the Bell 430 helicopter made its first flight.
The prototype Bell 430 in flight
The Bell 430 is the big brother of the Bell 230 and Bel 222 with more power and a bigger fuselage than its predecessors. The Bell 430 program was launched officially in February 1992. The two prototypes were modified Bell 230 airframes, The first prototype made its first flight on this day in 1994 and was as a sort of proof of concept airframe. It did not have the full Bell 430 features as designed. The second prototype flew for the first time a little two months after the first prototype, on the 19th of December 1994.
Production of the Bell 430 began in August 1995 with the first production aircraft being completed later in that year. Canadian Aviation Regulators certified the aircraft in February 1996, with deliveries starting a few months later. The aircraft was certified with some unique approvals;
The first helicopter certified for Single Pilot IFR flights
Category A helicopter operations (capable of flying on one engine if one engine failed on take-off)
Three-dimensional drawing of the Bell 430
The main technical improvement from the Bell 230 that was incorporated on the Bell 430 was the rotor system, a four-bladed composite rotor. The aircraft is powered by Rolls Royce Allison Model 250 engines that were mounted on top of the cabin, which was 1' 6" (46 cm) stretched compared to the Bell 230.
The Main Rotor is installed with 5 degrees forward tilt, this keeps the passenger cabin level during forward flight. It is also installed with a 1..15 degrees tilt to the left, this is to counter the tendency of the helicopter to move sideways in a hover as a result of Main Rotor torque and tail rotor thrust, (Translating Tendency).
When ordering the aircraft purchaser could choose between different options, some examples;
Retractable undercarriage or skids
Full EFIS Flight deck
In January 2008 the order book started to dry up and Bell announced plans to end production after all orders were fulfilled. In May 2008 the last of the Bell 430s left the factory.
136 Bell 430 helicopters were built.
Bell 430 with skids Bell 430 with retractable gear
Specifications for the Bell 430:
Exterior Height: 12 ft 3 in
Wing Span: 42 ft 0 in
Length: 50 ft 3 in
External Baggage: 37 cu ft
Max Speed: 140 kts
Economy Cruise: 132 kts
Cost per Hour: $ 1,699.46
Engine Mfg: Rolls Royce
Engine Model: 250-C40B
Cabin Volume: 158 cu ft
Internal Baggage: 3 cu ft
Max T/O Weight: 9300 Lb
Operating Weight: 6398 Lb
Empty Weight: 5305 Lb
Fuel Capacity: 1655 Lb
Payload W/Full Fuel: 1247 Lb
Max Payload: 2902 Lb
Range: 324 nm
Service Ceiling: 18340 ft