BELL 505

Flying the Bell 505 JRX - Honest Review

By Jan Rustad, Retired, Chief Flying Instructor & Manager of Business, Canadian Helicopters School Penticton BC at Canadian Helicopters Limited

26 November 2018

The following highlights of my flight with Pete on Tuesday morning Nov. 6 2018:

  • Weather CAVU surface OAT @ YYF airport alt. 1,130', +8* - +10* C , wind 5 - 10 kts
  • Aircraft Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, N505CQ full fuel, (2) Pilots & (2) rear seat passengers + 100 lbs operational gear near all up gross weight at T/O.
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We lifted off at roughly 70% Tor. and transitioned into forward flight with under 75% Tor. The aircraft was very comfortable to hover; very smooth with very little, if any, vibration. It felt like I was in a baby 206 L-4 however very nice cabin visibility and instrumentation layout a dream as well as the start and run up with the dual Chanel FADEC system. Although I am not a younger generation pilot I found adapting to the Garmin panel display was not a serious issue it took a little bit of work to orient myself with the display however I was feeling much more comfortable towards the end of the flight.

Hover performance + landing and T/O to and from the hover felt very similar to the L-4 type however adjusting to the skid position may be an issue with some. A rule of thumb that I personally use is to note prior to run up and T/O where the front tip of the skids are in relation to my body position sitting in the pilot’s seat i.e. for the 505 the front tip of the skids are even with my left and right shoulders. In other words, if you drew a straight line through the cabin from one skid tip to the other it would roughly intersect the front of each shoulder. With that in mind when planning a landing in the field a mental picture of the skid position as just described requires the aircraft to be placed well forward of the LZ i.e. your feet and body sitting in the aircraft at a position forward of the front edge of the pad or LZ chosen for best results and to avoid an undesirable tippy back landing.

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"The transition into forward flight and climb out was a pleasure the aircraft does not struggle and translates smoothly and it quickly wants to fly and climbs out like a homesick angel."

Cruise climb to our first operational LZ a small shoulder at 3,600 on the East side of Mt. Parker just west of Saint Andrews by the lake southwest of Penticton was effortless. We idled up there as smooth as glass. I applied the basic mountain recce procedure and had to work at keeping the aircraft in the slower speed ranges as this aircraft is designed to get up and go and not idle around. After a couple of eye level recce passes the aircraft was happiest with an approach along the up flowing face from the South and we comfortably arrived with a brief hover and touch down with the skids placed well forward on the LZ landing at under 40% Tor. Lift off and departure was smooth and effortless using under 45% Tor.

We continued southwest bound climbing gradually from our last LZ at Mt. Parker southwest towards Anvil Mt. due south of the town of Keromeos (30) miles Southwest of Penticton. Again, the climb out and was smooth and effortless with a cruise climb in the 100 KT range...

"By this time I have truly died and gone to helicopter heaven loving the aircraft more and more."

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As we transitioned higher our OAT was getting into the (- 8) - (-10) deg. range and we put cabin heat on however there was little if any noticeable rise in T4 and cabin comfort was nice and toasty. We picked up the ridgeline to the north of Anvil Mtn. at just around 7,800' the aircraft crabbed into our upper wind tracking inbound also confirmed by our Garmin that has a wind vector indicator and G/S display that confirmed what the aircraft was saying our wind was out of the West at 22 kts. I worked the up-flow side of the ridge leading into the high point at Anvil a smooth well weathered high-altitude ridge with some scattered broken rock. Our first eye level pass confirmed the LZ and its elevation and the wind direction through A/C crab angle, torque readings were very low in the 30 - 40 % range however ground speed passing from the north to the south was much quicker than the 40 Kts. indicated airspeed on the panel.

The next pass parallel to the first and from the south to the north also at 40 Kts. and eye level confirmed a much slower ground speed and reconfirmed the exact LZ location with a mental picture taken of how the skids would sit at the landing moment. Still remaining along the up flowing face of the ridge I reversed track and positioned the aircraft to crab with the wind to the left front side cx cabin to the LZ keeping the approach shallow right to the landing moment well forward for skid placement and a gentle nose down landing using not more than 40% Tor. - not bad considering we are now at 8,200' ASL and it took 70% to hover at the airport. We could have departed from the LZ using less than 45% Tor, however Pete wanted me to depart using max torque with the heater turned on full so I did a towering take-off using torque limit we were able to get 99% Torque with the aircraft climbing straight up like a skyrocket, wow!

"No problem lots of power even with the heater on full, very nice to see."

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Our trip back to Penticton from the high country was quick and smooth we flew at between 100 - 125 Knots. It’s hard to keep this aircraft slowed down and it is smooth as glass in all speed ranges. By this time, I am totally in love and never want to get out of the aircraft. I have definitely died and gone to 505 JRX heaven. On approach to the field we entered autorotation the aircraft floated down and we recovered at a safe altitude and with a tear in my eye returned to the pad. Shut down was quick and easy and shut down dwell short 30 seconds.

"It’s hard to keep this aircraft slowed down and it is smooth as glass in all speed ranges."

FINAL REVIEW

Further to the amazing inflight qualities the Bell team has listened very well to input from industry in the design and development of this aircraft the airframe is very solid with a tubular alloy frame underneath the skin for additional strength. Access to inspection ports and components is excellent. The baggage compartment is the full width of the airframe with great access and the cabin has a flat modular floor that is easily repaired if damaged. The cabin has lots of head space for taller types and good shoulder space the rear seats fold away nicely and there is great visibility for the pilot and front and rear seat passengers all looking forward and able to see the same thing's clearly. The pilot seats are very comfortable and easy to adjust also noted that the rear seating is very comfortable. Well done Bell team keep up the great work you have a winner!

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