Bell 412EP is a twin-engine helicopter manufactured by US-based aerospace and defence company Bell Textron, formerly known as Bell Helicopter. The helicopter is manufactured as per the modernisation requirements of the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND).
The Bell 412EP can also be configured for a wide range of missions, such as law enforcement, special operations, homeland security, VIP transportation, oil and gas, and emergency medical service.
The base version Bell 412 helicopters have been in service with the Sri Lanka Air Force since December 2011.
Orders and deliveries of Bell 412EP
Bell Helicopter finalised a PHP4.8bn ($107.9m) purchase agreement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) for the supply of eight Bell 412EP helicopters to the Philippine DND in April 2014.
The DND received the first helicopter in June 2015 and took delivery of the eighth Bell 412EP medium twin-engine helicopter in August 2015.
Five of eight Bell 412s were assigned to the Philippine Air Force’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing for use in combat utility and human assistance disaster relief (HADR) operations. The remaining three, which are configured for the transportation of VVIPs, were assigned to the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing. The Presidential Airlift Wing has four Bell 412 helicopters in its inventory.
The Philippine DND negotiated the contract with the CCC under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was announced in November 2012 for the purchase of defence and military-related materials and services.
Bell Helicopter and the DND signed an agreement for the procurement of 16 412EPI helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at the Singapore Air Show in February 2018. The government cancelled the agreement to purchase 16 412EPI helicopters, following a review after Canada expressed concerns that the helicopters could be used to target insurgents.
PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) and Bell Helicopter signed an industrial and commercial agreement for expanding the support to the users of Bell helicopters in Indonesia in 2012. The agreement was renewed in 2016.
The Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Indonesia signed a contract with PTDI for the purchase of nine 412EPI helicopters in December 2018.
Bell will deliver the nine helicopters to PTDI, which will hand over them to the Indonesian Army after conducting the necessary customisation work. PTDI delivered the fourth and fifth units of Bell 412EPI to the Ministry of Defense in July 2021. The Ministry took delivery of the first three units between December 2020 and February 2021.
Bell 412EP helicopter design and features
The Bell 412EP helicopter is based on the Bell 412 utility helicopter. It features an all-composite four-blade main rotor system, two-blade tail rotor, skid-type landing gear, semi-monocoque tail boom, and aluminium alloy fuselage. The helicopter can execute missions both during day and at night.
The spacious cabin, with a volume of 6.2m³, is designed to provide comfortable seating for 13 passengers. It is equipped with two 2.3m jettisonable doors and four large panoramic windows. The baggage compartment in tail boom has a volume of 0.8m³ and can be easily configured to house a variety of mission-specific equipment.
The internal and external maximum gross weights of the helicopter are 5,398kg each. The empty weight is 3,159kg in instrument flight rules (IFR) standard configuration. The helicopter can carry a useful load of 2,239kg and is attached with a cargo hook to carry loads up to 2,041kg.
The modern, glass cockpit accommodates two crew members and has an option for single pilot IFR operation. It is fitted with two side doors and glass windshields.
The three-axis, dual digital automatic flight control system (AFCS) enables safe and easy operation while reducing the pilot workload. The avionics include multi-functional displays, VHF antenna, VHF transceiver, magnetic compass, distance measuring equipment, transponder, airspeed indicator, and altimeter.
The cockpit can be optionally fitted with four-axis dual digital AFCS, helicopter terrain avoidance warning system (H-TAWS), automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), air data computer, emergency locator transmitter and traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS).
The fuselage is fitted with rollover bulkhead protection for the occupants. The crashworthy, energy-absorbing crew seats ensure pilot safety and comfort. The transmission system uses chip detector and debris collection to provide early failure detection.
The Bell 412EP’s safety features also include rupture-resistant fuel cells, wire strike protection system, dual digital flight control, and dual redundant electrical, hydraulic and fuel systems.
Bell 412EPI upgrade
The Bell 412EPI is an improved version of the basic Bell 412EP helicopter. It has an empty weight of 3,207kg and a maximum gross weight of 5,398kg.
Some of the major upgrades include the Pratt & Whitney PT6T-9 Twin Pac engine and the Bell BasiX-Pro fully integrated glass cockpit system. The advanced engine provides approximately 13% more take-off power than that of the 412EP version.
The fully integrated glass flight deck improves the situational awareness of the pilot by providing critical flight information.
The upgraded aircraft is equipped with single pilot instrument flight rules (SPIFR) capability with four-axis stability and control. The avionics system can be customised as per the customer’s needs.
The helicopter has a fuel capacity of 1,251l and can achieve a cruising speed of 235km/h. It can fly up to 687km for four hours while carrying a payload of 4,309kg.
The helicopter features a traffic advisory system along with helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems for improved safety.
The Bell 412EPI incorporates BLR Aerospace’s Fastfin system that uses advanced airflow management to improve the lift capabilities of the aircraft.
The 412EPIs of the Indonesian Army are fitted with a Gatling-style M134D minigun that can fire 7.62×51mm rounds supplied by Indonesian state-owned arms company Pindad.
Engines and performance of the twin-engine helicopter
The Bell 412EP helicopter is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac® engines, which have a generating capacity of 1,800shp each. The engines are coupled to a 1,110shp transmission unit.
The helicopter has a standard fuel capacity of 1,251l and can optionally carry 621l of auxiliary fuel. It is fitted with Strake and FastFin, both developed by BLR Aerospace, for improved hover and crosswind performance.
The powerplant provides a maximum cruise speed of 226km/h, a never-exceed speed of 259km/h and a range of 358nm. The helicopter’s IGE and OGE hover ceilings are 3,109m and 1,585m respectively, service ceiling is 4,968m and endurance is 216 minutes.