Bell 47 production to (eventually) resume

Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

14 years 11 months

Posts: 9,617

I posted this in the Historic Forum but thought it would be welcome here as well. Work is underway to resume production of the first helicopter approved for commercial use. Last year, Bell Helicopter Textron transferred the Approved Type Certificvate for the venerable Bell 47 to Scott's Helicopter Service of Minnesota. The firm then formed "Scott's Bell 47" to support the aircraft and in August received Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) allowing the company to make parts currently not available for the Bell 47. Initially, the idea was to support the hundreds of Bell 47s still flying, but a couple of their press releases show that they eventually want to undertake full production. "The PMA process will be used until the company ultimately obtains a Production Certificate." from a relase issued 2/22/2010. and more recently, "...Neil’s experience will be invaluable when it comes to obtaining the Production Certificate necessary for producing new Scott’s – Bell 47s! " from a release on 1/10/2011. http://www.scottsbell47.com/default.htm
Original post
Profile picture for user 27vet

Member for

9 years 11 months

Posts: 2,657

Good news.

Member for

13 years 11 months

Posts: 2,806

I wonder how it will compare costwise to the Robinson 22 and 44. ?
Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

14 years 11 months

Posts: 9,617

Good question. I'd also wonder about its operating costs as a trainer. A lot of 47s are used for agriculture (which the R-22 and 44 aren't used for much and for sport use) where operating costs aren't quite as critical. I'd guess the operating costs would come down to parts cost and overhaul times. And you have to remember, the Bell is roughly in between the 22 and 44 in size and capacity. My intructor in 47s had 2000 hrs in R-22s and he thought the Bell was a better trainer, though both ships had their strong points. And during a visit to Abbotsford, BC last year, I discovered a large helicopter training school that used the Bells.
Profile picture for user 27vet

Member for

9 years 11 months

Posts: 2,657

Are they going to resume the piston or turbine model Bell 47?
Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

14 years 11 months

Posts: 9,617

All factory built 47s were piston. The turbines were retrofits done by a firm named Soloy with its own STC. They used the Allison (now Rolls) engine similar to the one in the Jet Ranger. So unless they bought the Soloy rights or develop their own STC, I'd assume they'll be piston. Scott's Helicopters does a lot of AG work, and turbines are in most fixed wing crop sprayers today, so I wouldn't rule it out but they haven't said one way or the other.
Profile picture for user 27vet

Member for

9 years 11 months

Posts: 2,657

Boyle, thanks for reminding me, I forgot that was a Soloy conversion.:o They don't mention that on the Wiki page either : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_47. If I can find that info I will edit it in.

Member for

15 years 11 months

Posts: 4,674

What's the point? There is Robinson around (pistons and turbine), and also Schweitzer aka Sikorsky Light Helicopters (also pistons and turbine). And in the East there are more. It's not like the world is waiting for another light helicopter.
Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

14 years 11 months

Posts: 9,617

Simply put, the Bell's a classic (and historic) airframe. Unlike the Robinsons and the Hughes/Schweitzer/Sikorsky, the Bell is very stable and IIRC, has a higher paylod than that pair, as an example You don't see many of the others in AG use. Having flown all three, I know which one I'd want. To answer your question with a question... Why rebuild Spits...a Piper can carry more at less cost as will a Mustang, Cessna Mustang that is. :D

Member for

19 years 9 months

Posts: 527

The M*A*S*H show comes to mind whenever I hear about this model. :)

Member for

16 years 2 months

Posts: 8,505

What's the point? There is Robinson around (pistons and turbine), and also Schweitzer aka Sikorsky Light Helicopters (also pistons and turbine). And in the East there are more. It's not like the world is waiting for another light helicopter.
If you want to be like that about it what is the point of new build FW 190's and Me 262's, and Twin Otters?. Besides which, the last I heard, Viking were also planning to start build Beavers again but that was a couple of years ago and it all seems to have gone quiet on that score.
Profile picture for user tornado64

Member for

9 years 6 months

Posts: 1,335

Good question. A lot of 47s are used for agriculture (which the R-22 and 44 aren't used for much and for sport use) .
i'd think again on that one !! they are favoured by ausie cattle musterers and boy can they throw them arround http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0lGvFheJ5Y and this?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxe_O01SG5Q or this ?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsSvfJO9Tqc its agriculture use is probably more than you would first think !!

Member for

16 years 2 months

Posts: 8,505

But the Aussies ar crazy anyway, it's a well known fact.
Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

14 years 11 months

Posts: 9,617

i'd think again on that one !! they are favoured by ausie cattle musterers
As they are in America. In Texas, I flew in one that was used for cattel herding. A lot of fun. But for traditional AG spray use, not many are used for that here in the US. Of course, there are many other options here ranging from 47s and Hillers (many turbine) to surplus military OH-58s.
Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

14 years 11 months

Posts: 9,617

If you want to be like that about it what is the point of new build FW 190's and Me 262's, and Twin Otters?. Besides which, the last I heard, Viking were also planning to start build Beavers again but that was a couple of years ago and it all seems to have gone quiet on that score.
Exactly...the Beaver and Twin Otter are ancient designs, but they still do their jobs very well. As marketing men say, the fill a "niche". That's why the 47 will re-enter production. Besides, with a helicopter, if you're making spares for the power train, you've done the hard bit, might as well make the easy bits: the cabin and steel tube fuselage...:D

Member for

16 years 2 months

Posts: 8,505

That's my point exactly. It fills a requirement. Has there really been anything to replace it developed whilst it was out of production? I'd have to say no.