The Bell Amarillo plant is beginning to assemble roofs, floors, nose and tail sections of the Relentless 525—a new civilian helicopter said a recent article in the Amarillo Globe-News.
Each section is built in modules. Larry Thimmesch is the vice president of the 525 program. He says the units can be rotated inside a special holding fixture so workers can easily install parts. The aircraft are made of 50 percent composite materials, and 50 percent metal. They each have about 10,000 parts.
“It all fits together kind of like a Lego assembly,” Thimmesch said.
The plan is to build five of the aircraft.
“The plan is to have Aircraft 1 completely done this year and to fly it, but we’re already building Aircraft 2,” he said as he walked through the nearly spotless plant. “By the end of the year, we will have five flight test aircraft in build and we will actually be starting to build our first production aircraft that we deliver to a customer. So we’re going to ramp up very fast in manufacturing.”
Currently, about ten employees are assembling the helicopter, but 22 are trained and ready.
“As soon as the parts come in, we have the people to install them,” Thimmesch said. “By the middle of summer, we will have almost 90 people over here working on the aircraft.”
Some Bell employees will transition from the V-22 Osprey program to help with the assembly work.
The Relentless 525 can be used for offshore oil and gas exploration, firefighting, emergency medical flights, paramilitary operations, and hauling corporate VIPs.