Happily flying into its second week of existence is the first Bell 412 of China, an EPI version to be exact operated by Chongqing General Aviation (CQGA). The debut immediately emphasizes a possible growing market for the type, with the CQGA 412EPI being fielded as a fire-fighter.
Therefore it is not so strange that Chad Nimrick from Bell Helicopter’s Piney Flats Customization and Delivery Center hopes to see the 412 grow after proving itself “during life-saving missions”.
According to Gong Wei, Chairman of CQGA, the first Chinese Bell 412 will not “only” help putting out fires. “It will deploy in forest protection, emergency rescue and law enforcement.” The new Bell 412EPI has been outfitted with a fire-fighting water tank, a so-called “bambi bucket”, hoist, cargo hook, radar altimeter, and search light and will join CQGA’s fleet of aircraft that also includes two Bell 407GX helicopters. The official hand-over ceremony was in Tennessee on 22 April.
Chongqing General Aviation was established in April 2012 and provides a lot, from tourism to air ambulance, to aerial advertising and VIP flights.
The Bell 412EPI has a fully integrated “glass” flight deck. The systems are optimized for IFR, Category A and JAR OPS3 compliant operations. The avionics suite also includes high resolution digital maps, electronic charts and approach plates, ADS-B transponder and optional HTAWS and XM satellite links. Two Pratt & Whitney’s PT6T-9 Twin Pac engines provide 15 percent more horsepower than the standard Bell 412. The Bell 412EPI features the BLR Strake and FastFin system, which modifies the tailboom to optimize airflow and improve handling, safety and lift.
Introduced in 2013, the Bell 412EPI continues to garner interest from international customers, including the Canadian Coast Guard who recently signed an agreement to purchase seven of the aircraft.
Source: Bell Helicopter
Featured image: The first ever Bell 412 certified to fly in China, operated by Chongqing (Image © Bell Helicopter)