Although the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic introduced numerous challenges and uncertainties, operators around the world continued to rely on the Bell 505 to perform and exceed in their current missions, as well as adding new missions into their portfolios. There are currently more than 60 Bell 505s flying in Asia-Pacific.
Although the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic introduced numerous challenges and uncertainties, operators around the world continued to rely on the Bell 505 to perform and exceed in their current missions, as well as adding new missions into their portfolios. There are currently more than 60 Bell 505s flying in Asia-Pacific, flying a variety of different missions including public safety, military training, and emergency management to tourism and corporate transport, utility missions and personal flights.
In China, Reignwood, the largest fleet operator of the Bell 505 as well as a Bell 505 dealer, operates its aircraft in multiple Chinese provinces for Helicopter EMS (HEMS), photography, marketing and tourism, and dry spraying crops. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Reignwood transported medical personnel and equipment across the country, and plans to operate a EMS Lite equipped Bell 505 paired with its HEMS-configured Bell 429 in 2021.
In Shanxi, the Bell 505 has taken on multiple missions. Recently, Reignwood paired up with Shanxi Provincial Fire Rescue Corps to hold the Blue Light – 2021 “Earthquake Rescue Comprehensive Actual Combat Pull Drill and Competition” in Datong City. Two helicopters, including one Bell 505, were involved in the drill along with professional rescuers that were simulating the response to a 6.1 magnitude earthquake.
As the Chinese government is facilitating the growth of helicopter emergency responses, Bell 505s are widely involved in multiple other roles such as firefighting and forest protection. Reignwood showcases its Bell 505s in dozens of drills to prove the helicopters effectiveness as a fire scout to survey the scene and report back on impacted locations. With such a dynamic platform, the Bell 505 is ideal as a first-on-the-scene aircraft and can carry a 2,000-pound Bambi Bucket with 230 gallons of water.
Tourism is also a high-potential market that is supported by the Bell 505 in China. The Bell 505’s spacious and open cabin provides top-notch visibility, and the stadium-style rear seats ensure that there are no bad views from the aircraft.
To promote tourism in China, Reignwood has positioned, or leased, aircraft in popular tourist and travel destinations including Beijing, Tianjin, Yunnan, and Sanya. In 2020, Reignwood held a media demo in collaboration with Bell in the heritage city of Datong. During the event, the Bell 505’s outstanding performance was showcased after sunset. Showcasing Datong City’s light show above the sky not only boosts the light show as an iconic aspect of the city, but also supports the growth of tourism by helicopter.
In other parts of Asia-Pacific, the Bell 505 continues to excel. Currently Japan has the third largest Bell 505 fleet behind the United States and China, with four aircraft operated by the Japan Coast Guard to provide advanced training. The Garmin G1000H NXi avionics suite and dual-channel FADEC provide reduced pilot workload to ensure that pilots at all skill levels can maintain their focus outside the cockpit. Bell 505s are also used in Japan for corporate transport missions and, most recently, prefectural-level police surveillance.
In Australia, 12 Apostles Helicopters uses the Bell 505 for luxury tourism flights. Company Pilot Isobel Stone detailed what she loves about the Bell 505:
It is impressive how much power the Bell 505 has. I’ve never been short of power. People enjoy how big the windows are and how great the visibility and views are.
“It is impressive how much power the Bell 505 has. I’ve never been short of power. The passengers really like it too. People enjoy how big the windows are and how great the visibility and views are, especially compared to our light single helicopters. In those bigger helicopters, the windows are so compact that the views are especially bad from the middle seats. In the 505, you have great views from all around.”
In Jakarta, Indonesia, Whitesky Aviation relies on two Bell 505s for its Heli City project. Its first Bell 505 flies air taxi and transport missions, whilst its second Bell 505 is used for HEMS missions in Balikpapan. Whitesky Aviation CEO Denon Prawiraatmadja shared with Bell on its use of the Bell 505:
“We have a medical evacuation service contract with a large company there [Balikpapan]. They love to have it because the helicopter has a very capable quick-change capability. We are able to put the stretcher in with a medical assistant sitting behind the pilot to tend to the patient. It is very good as a standby helicopter in case they need medical support, because the company is six hours from the hospital by car or ambulance. When they did not have the capacity to pay the extra cost for a larger helicopter, we were able to offer the 505 at a lower cost and meet the mission.”
To adapt to the challenging times and continue to connect with customers, the Bell team hosted and attended virtual events throughout 2020. At Bell headquarters, Bell hosted two virtual events. The first one was a “Live with the Bell 505” virtual tour that highlighted the platform and included discussions with Bell sales and pilot team members. Bell’s next event, the Bell Live Showcase, included an overview of Bell’s full commercial portfolio and customer support and services network. Key Segment Specialist at Bell and former Aviation Commander at Arizona’s Department of Public Safety, Terry Miyauchi, walked through the Bell 505 public safety-configured demonstrator to highlight its many benefits.
In Japan, the Bell team attended Inter BEE for the first time for the event’s first virtual event. This event is dedicated to the media, entertainment and broadcasting industries. At this event, Bell shared its product line and emphasized the Bell 505 as a cost-effective and modern platform for Electronic News Gathering (ENG) missions.
Finally, in the Philippines, Bell teamed up with Tatler Philippines for a virtual event titled “Come Fly With Me”for select Tatler guests to discuss the future of travel and the possibilities that come along with using helicopters for private transport and charter.
Around the world, the Bell 505 is carrying teams through challenging tasks and thrilling flights while attracting interest from more potential customers. As more operators continue to harness the power of this aircraft, its mission capabilities grow with every new customer and every opportunity to demonstrate its mastery of flight.
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