The certificate is a requirement of the Navy Advanced Helicopter Training System competition, and enables the Bell 407GXi to replace the Bell TH-57 Sea Ranger as the US Navy’s training helicopter.
Bell's replacement bid offers a ‘combination of capability, ease of transition, and low sustainment costs, giving the best value to the Navy’, said the company. Should the aircraft be selected for the US Navy Advanced Helicopter Trainer programme, the company plans to conduct final assembly of the aircraft in Ozark, Alabama.
“The team did a great job ensuring the Bell 407GXi achieved the FAA’s IFR certification necessary to meet all of the Navy’s requirements,” said Mitch Snyder, President and CEO. “Bell is an instrumental part of the Navy’s training programme and has been for more than 50 years, and we look forward to continuing the tradition for the next generation of Naval Aviators.”
A Bell to Bell transition does seem to offer a lower-risk option to the Navy by streamlining instructor pilot and maintainer transition training, as well as using common support equipment and infrastructure. The 407 airframe is already used as the platform for the MQ-8C Fire Scout for the US Navy.