It’s an exciting time for new helicopter design. Development, testing and certification can take a decade, so the fact that two cutting-edge models from Bell and Airbus will be certified by the FAA this year, and three other innovative choppers are moving in that direction, is a plus for lovers of the rotorcraft. The Bell 525 Relentless and ACH160 are rewriting the rules by minimizing vibration, external noise, and at the same time, accelerating speed, range and cabin comfort. Both will come in executive versions.
The five-person Hill HX50, with its James-Bond-cool looks, has a DIY angle: Owners can work side by side with Hill’s engineers in completing their personal helicopters. The SH09 from Swiss aerospace company Kopter is like the Swiss Army knife of whirlybirds, designed for many missions from search and rescue to executive travel.
Leonardo’s AW609 is now on its third generation of design, under three different corporate owners, but its long-tested tilt-rotor design looks like the futuristic vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that seem to be popping up everywhere. These new designs are a big push forward as aerospace design moves into the next explosive stage in its history.