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Tuesday February 28, 2006

Bell Flies 429 New Rotor System for the First Time

HAI, DALLAS, TX, USA ( Bell Helicopters Press Release ) - Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company announced that its new 429 light twin helicopter passed a significant milestone today at its Mirabel, Canada facility, when its new high performance main rotor system flew for the first time. Last year during HAI Bell committed to demonstrating seven key features of the 429 within a year.

Bill Stromberg, 429 Program Director said, "During this past year we have successfully completed the evaluation of an improved engine, intake, exhaust, tail rotor control cables, autopilot, aircraft data interface unit, and now the main rotor system. This is the sixth and final major new system to be demonstrated before the 429's first flight later this year."

The main rotor blade, a product of Bell's Modular Affordable Product Line (MAPL), incorporates new advanced manufacturing technology to make the blades more producible and affordable and features lower tip speed and swept tip design to reduce external noise levels.

The blades were produced by ATI, an employee owned rapid prototyping facility in Newport News, Virginia. The rotor hub was manufactured at Bell's XWorX facility in Texas.

"After two hours of ground testing the blades were successfully flown for 30 minutes," said Stromberg. Flight testing of the rotor will continue for the next 2 months in various locations in Canada to demonstrate stable operation at altitudes to 20,000 ft and down to -40 degrees Centigrade.

The 429 is one of the new products that Bell Helicopter has introduced during the past year and is a product of Bell's Voice of the Customer program where the customers' input helped shape the requirements and design. The Voice of the Customer process continues on the 429 and is now focusing on maintenance planning and training. Besides the rotor blades, the 429 incorporates nine additional MAPL technologies.

Bell Helicopter is an industry-leading producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tilt rotor aircraft. Globally recognized for world-class customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell's global workforce serves customers flying Bell aircraft in more than 120 countries.

Textron Inc. is a $10 billion multi-industry company with 46,000 employees operating in 36 countries. The company leverages its global network of aircraft, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO and Greenlee, among others.

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