In the last couple of weeks, three Bell 505s – soon to be joined by a fourth – have been doing initial flight tests at Kagoshima Airport in the south west of Japan. All are flying in the colours of Japan Coast Guard. Some photos published on the internet show three of the helicopters already flying, including two with temporary external mounted wiring, potentially for rotor blade balancing.
Registered JA181A, JA182A, JA183A and JA184A (click hyperlinks to see images on external non-HeliHub web pages), it is unclear at this time whether they will replace or supplement the three Bell 206B JetRanger IIIs currently operated by Japan Coast Guard. The 206s are all operated from Sendai Airport, while the 505s are – at least initially – all at Kagoshima. All the 505s, the older 206s – and indeed the JCG’s Cessna 206 as well – have support/utility roles and not front-line SAR roles. The aircraft are Bell MSNs 65026, 65027, 65028 and 65032 respectively