Update: Here's link to full story in the Star-Telegram.
Bell Helicopter will soon take the wraps off the Magellan project, its most ambitious non-military aircraft development program ever.
Bell will unveil details about the new commercial helicopter at a trade show in Dallas next month, and company officials aren’t talking about it until then. But the Star-Telegram has learned a few key details about the scope of the effort.
Magellan is a $500 million-plus effort to develop an all new long-range helicopter to haul workers and supplies to offshore oil rigs 200 or more miles out to sea.
Launched a year ago, the new helicopter likely will be known as the Bell 525 Magellan Super Medium Transport, based on trademark applications filed by the company last month. It would be the biggest helicopter the company has ever built, weighing 19,300 pounds – more than nine tons — when fully loaded with passengers, bags and fuel.
With twin turbine engines driving a five-bladed rotor, a new technological undertaking for Bell, the helicopter can carry 16 passengers and a crew of two. It could fly at least 200 nautical miles, perhaps close to 300, land and carry back that many people back to base on one tank of fuel.
It’s a major undertaking and big investment for Bell, which for more than decade has been kicking around the idea of building a big helicopter for flying to oil rigs and other long range missions. Bell's parent, Textron Inc., until recent years typically drained off any spare cash that Bell could have been used for research and development of new products.