Cost and Value of the Bell 429

The Bell 429 first took flight on February 27, 2007. It is capable of single pilot IFR operations. A twin engine light utility aircraft manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It is equipped with 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207D’s which produce 625shp. Has a cruise speed around 140Kts and a range of 368 nautical miles and has a max service ceiling of 20,000ft. It has the option of skid gear or wheeled landing gear; with the skid gear option you could reach cruise speeds of up to 150kts. The main purpose for development of the 429 was for the EMS industry. Originally the 427 was meant for this but the cabin was too small for EMS operations, and it was not rated for IFR which caused issues for EMS as well. The 429 received type certification from Transport Canada Civil Aviation and the FAA in July of 2009. EASA granted certification in September of 2009 and officially launched in 2010.

Over the years the 429 has become more popular as a corporate aircraft as well as for EMS operations and law enforcement. Many of the 429’s out there have utility equipment installed on them. When valuing aircraft with unique equipment specific to a particular operation you must deduct the cost to remove said equipment. Appraisers have to do this because it must be assumed that the next owner of the aircraft is not going to want a camera, or any other utility equipment installed or maybe they want to install different equipment. The potential new buyer is not going to look at a utility aircraft if they are looking for a corporate designed aircraft unless they see that the price is reasonably less than what they could just buy directly without any removal or modification necessary. So, if a utility aircraft is improperly valued (overvalued) you are hurting both the seller and potential buyer.

Another factor in appraising the 429 is that you must account for total times of the airframe and the engines. Once the airframe reaches a total time of 5000 hours it is time for an overhaul. An overhaul of the main rotor and transmission as well as the tail rotor and gearbox are going to run somewhere in the ballpark of $1.5 million. Engine overhaul will come due at 4000 hours. The total cost of engine overhauls is going to be around $2 million.

There is of course going to be an annual cost associated with owning this aircraft. Assuming that you fly 450 hours a year at $7 per gallon fuel, the Bell 429 has a total variable cost of $515,000, total fixed cost of $133,000, with a total annual budget of $648,000. Your total hourly cost will be $1440. These numbers are in general terms to give you an idea of what you are getting into. The range of flight time will very between operators. Corporate operators could be flying as little as 200 hours or less while EMS and law enforcement could be flying upwards of 1000 hours a year or more.

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