|Bell Model 400 / 440|
In February 1983, Bell announced the first of a new helicopter family, both commercial and military, single and twin-engined, the Model 400 TwinRanger. This seven-seat aircraft was in the 1800-2700kg gross weight class. The Model 400 was powered by two 443shp Allison 250-C20R turboshaft engines, had a four-blade soft-in-plane main rotor, an advanced technology transmission and drive system with 'run-dry' capability (similar to those of the Model 406).
The aircraft entered development in 1983 with wind-tunnel testing with a one-quarter scale model and flight testing of the dynamic components on a specially modified Model 206LM LongRanger (c/n 45003, N206N) which served as test-bed and flew in March 1983. This aircraft had the four-bladed OH-58D AHIP rotor, a strengthened tail boom, a ring guard tail rotor and a deepened fuselage to increase fuel capacity. The first prototype of the Model 400 (c/n 48001, N3185K) accomplished its maiden flight on 30 June, 1984. Three pre-production Model 400 TwinRangers (c/n 48002/ 48004) were built, the first of which (N3185L) flew for the first time on 4 July, 1985, the second (N3185U) in May and the third (N400BH) in June 1985. The first aircraft was later used as a ground test vehicle.
It was expected that the Canadian factory, at Mirabel, Montreal, would undertake production of the Model 400. Initially, the rotor heads, rotor blades, transmission and other components would have been manufactured at Fort Worth and shipped to Canada. The Canadian plant being responsible for the airframe, final assembly, flight testing and delivery. The first production example was expected to be rolled out during the final quarter of 1985 and certification was scheduled for August 1986 with first deliveries occurring in due course. Bell planned then to produce a hundred TwinRangers during 1986-87. In addition the Canadians were due to develop and manufacture the Model 400A, a variant of the Model 400 powered by a single 1000shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW209T turboshaft engine, and the Model 440 which would have employed major composites components. The Model 440 was due to fly in 1988 with deliveries to customers in 1989. As for all previous Bell models, military variants of the Models 400/440 would have been developed to satisfy foreign customers.
Unfortunately, this programme has been suspended indefinitely pending a market situation that would support an annual sales rate of about 120 aircraft. The four existing aircraft have been cancelled from the register and put in storage by Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, at Mirabel.
Technical data for Model 400
Rotor diameter: 11.30m, overall length: 13.39m, length of fuselage: 11.02m, height overall: 3.56m, maximum take-off weight: 2495kg, empty weight: 1427kg, maximum speed: 278km/h, maximum cruising speed at 1525m: 244km/h, initial rate of climb: 464m/min, service ceiling: 6100m, hover ceiling outside ground effect: 3110m, hover ceiling in ground effect: 4360m, maximum range: 834km