11-Jun-2013 Source: HeliHub.com
The UK’s first Bell 429 arrived quietly into the UK in late May, and is being worked on by Bell’s UK representatives, Heli-Charter at Manston before it takes up its’ local registration G-RIDB.
Last December Bell announced that National Grid had ordered a 429 for delivery in the first quarter of 2013, hardly a story at the time as the aircraft had been spied the previous month at the Canadian factory at Mirabel in full National Grid colours! The first quarter delivery schedule is believed to have slipped due to later-than-expected approval by EASA of two STC’d components on this particular aircraft – firstly the complex observer’s console and all its external equipment and secondly the high-intensity strobe lights. Whether the delay in approval is due to Bell optimism or EASA intransigence, or both, is unknown at this time.
This particular 429 – serial 57105 – was test flown in Canada as C-GTNQ and delivered from there to Bell’s European base at Prague in early December and test flown there as OK-BHX. When the necessary paperwork is done, it will become G-RIDB (ie Grid B) on the British register to follow on National Grid’s registrations which they started with G-RIDA (Grid A).
Until we get approval to use a particular photo of the aircraft, please feel free to check out these links
HeliHub.com understands that National Grid have a second 429 on order
Helicopter photo Copyright 2013 of Václav Kudela and reproduced here with his permission
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
UPDATE…. Further investigation suggests that the delay in getting EASA STC approval concluded in early May, judging by this tweet by the National Grid observer Matt Ward:-