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Couple of stupid questions


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Anyone know where to find a flight manual online for a 500 D E or F? Is it possible to upgrade a D or E to an F? How much does VNE decrease with altitude in the 500 series. Other than the short legs and support issues what are other shortcomings of a 530? Any recomended resources besides vertical refrence?


Thanks for your time.

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Yes it is possible to convert a D or E to a 530, but it won't be cheap.   In the long run it would probably make more sense to pick up a BA, B2 Astar, or 407, rather than convert a 500 to the 530.  It would probably prove to cost you less as well.


A used 407, or Astar will cost you approx $800K USD, a used 500 D $350K ($400K+ for an E model), conversion will probably run you at least $300- 400 K.   (anyone out there with the correct costs please feel free to correct me) To convert, you'd have to change the engine, (~$300K if new, and no exchange credit) the rotors (~$30K each), not sure if the head, driveshafts, mounts, accessories, or tail rotor need to be changed, but you will need the longer tailboom, t/r driveshaft, t/r gearbox spacer, if it's a D model you'll need the E/FF nose.  


The 407 and Astar perform much better at altitude, and can actually carry passengers (5-6 of 'em) in reasonable comfort.  The latter cannot be said for any 500. :;):  They also have better endurance, range, and lifting capabilities.  Don't get me wrong, the 500 series is a great pilot's aircraft, but for utility there are better alternatives.  It occupies a niche market, and does some things very well, but then so do some of the newer aircraft.  The 500 is a great longline platform, but from what I've heard (talk to 407Driver on this) the 407 is an equally stable LL platform.  It also has more power, it's faster, and can carry more people.  A very capable, and versatile ship.  


Recently there have been concerns with MD's customer service, and the availability of parts.  Something that you don't usually have to worry about with Bell.



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:crutches:  This is Bill, he was forced to ride in the back seat of a 500 for 2 hours.  If you wish to talk to him, you'll need to speak up, as he's hard of hearing now too.   :down:

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Thank you Randy,


Where have you seen A-star's or 407's for that kind of money? I have never seen a 407 for under 1.1 mil. Have seen a 350 ba for 900 but I'm not sure how it will do at the altitudes we work 6000-14000. The boss also isn't real fond of buying anything that isn't U.S. made (I know the others all have strong offshore ties and euro has a new U.S. plant)

The reason I ask about a conversion is I have seen a few project 500's some without engines and blades (hard landings)

that are pretty cheap, and was wondering if you could put a C-30 and the longer blades etc on instead of C-20 etc. Our maint costs are currently our strong point.


The 407 intrigues me as I have some 58d experience but the fadec and some of PHI's problems cause concern. We fly a soloy 47 now so even a 500 would be an upgrade concerning seats.

I forgot to ask about actual DOC's above also. I haven't seen the 407 numbers but MD estimated costs are pretty low especially compared to my figures for the soloy.

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I had a quick look, and you're right.  The best price I could find was 1.1M.   :(   Prices have gone up since I last looked.  Heck for that price you can get a 212 !!!


Just so's you know MD is owned offshore, it ain't American anymore.  It was bought by a European company several years age, when Boeing wanted to get rid of it.


PHI is having a bad go of it these days, but I wonder if it isn't an environmental problem.  ie: humidity, and salt.  The operators I've talked to here in Canada love the things, and aren't having the same problems.  I would imagine that the DOC's would be similar to the 530.  All manufacturers will tel you that their a/c is the cheapest to operate out there.  ;)  


I did see a company in the Pac N.W. selling some Lama's.  Now ther's a real performer at altitude !!   The B3 Astar is just barely able to keep up.  


As for converting, well if you can get the airframe cheap enough it would probably be cost effective.  From rebuilds that I've had anything to do with, the cost usually ended being the same, or more than buying a good aircraft.  


If you want the goods on the 407, I recommend talking with 407Driver.  He's had one at his base for a few years now, and can give you better info on costs, etc.  


Cheers and have a merry Christmas !!!!

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I've had a 407 around here for almost 5 years, and it's quite the aircraft.  There have been a few problems along the way, but it's been a very good and reliable aircraft for us.   The FADEC's did cause some early problems, and the potentiometer in the HMU caused an recent AD (we had 1 bad one out of 7 ships). We have had a few Tail Boom cracks.  Bell has been supportive so far.  This recent wave of turbine wheel failures seems to be from one overhaul shop and one company, time will tell what's going on there....

I don't get involved in costs, but I have been told that we are operating our 7 for less than our previous B2's ( we had 3)


As far as flying the aircraft, it's a pilots dream, if you're under 5'9".  It's fast, cruising at 120 to 130 Kts ( with a huge ski basket attached all year), it climbs well, and can maintain near red line climbs (2,000 fpm) at max AUW of 5250.  It seems to handle mid altitudes well, we operate from 7,000 to 12,000 with no problems.

Longlining is a dream, the aircraft simply makes you look good.  We run a big longline bubble for the pilot, plus an outside "check Instrument" light, similar to a B3's FLI guage.  T/R authority is superb.  Wind direction doesn't make much difference on TO or landing, except for a possible higher MGT (TOT).

It's a true pilots aircraft, most who fly it love it.

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Thanks folks,


CJ we are looking at the lama\allouette option, speed and support are the only weak points I've come up with so far.  The lama's that are in the price range you mention all seem to be pretty close to a 12 year. May be an option anyway, no better way to learn a bird than go through an overhaul.


407driver, what is a typical empty weight on a 407? Are yours left hand drive or is the seating ok from the right? Everything cleared up with OAS and contract stuff? I heard there was some sort of issue this summer?


Thanks again

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Our 7 aircraft are around 2800 lbs EW and we run them to 5250 AUW.  

I don't believe that there are any old outstanding issues with the 407  (ie USFS) and I'm not too sure what is happening with this recent rash of turbine blade failures at PHI.  We have not received any new paperwork yet.  There was an existing ASB on some wheels.


Our fleet is all standard RH drive.  I see no use to converting a 407 to the Paravion LH drive Kit, as it is so easy to longline out the RH side.

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  • 1 month later...

407Driver, you definitely have some very valuable information. Talking to 407 pilots on fires these last few years I heard pretty much the same things. I have only very limited time in a 407, but I liked what I saw.


Since the helicopter is fairly new to this industry, it is to be expected that there are going to be "teething" problems. Every other helicopter has gone through a similar phase during the first few years. I am a bit concerned about the tailboom issues and hope Bell is going to be successful in resolving the problems.


If I had to pick which helicopter manufacturer I would want to deal with if there were maintenance issues, it would definitely be Bell. Hands down. They have the most consistent and fastest customer service. I would avoid acquiring MD products for multiple reasons, some of which have already been stated on this thread.


I did run a DOC comparison between a B2 and a 407 and after factoring in additional costs for the previously mentioned teething problems, the B2 came out on top by only a dozen bucks an hour or so. (Oh, don't believe what the manufacturer quotes about DOC - they're full of it.) The comparison was based on averaging 500 hours annually. However, once you factor in AOG expenses and lost revenue due to a lack of parts (this is a Eurocopter problem), I could very well imagine the 407 coming out on top again in a real life DOC comparison. A very important aspect that most operators forget when computing DOC is currency exchange rates. The dollar is so weak right now that parts prices for a B2 will eventually have to come up. There is a good chance the DOC on a B2 could jump up 20% or more over the next few years (on top of inflation).


If you're looking to pick up a mid component time helicopter, the B2 will be substantially cheaper, since they have been around much longer and there are more available on the market. There isn't much of a used 407 market out there right now. As a matter of fact, the previously mentioned 1.1M for a used 407 is somewhat questionable - if you are in the market for MID times, you're looking more at 1.2 -1.3M. Compare that with 940K for a mid time B2.


Unless you fly in and out of tight hoverholes all day long, I'd stay away from converting a 500D to an FF. Don't get me wrong, I think the 500 platform is one of the alltime best ever designed, but there are too many other factors to consider when trying to expand fleet capability.

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  • 1 year later...

Just a quick reply to Randy's comments on Dec.23 2003.


You can not convert a 'D" model to a 530FF... Different Airframe... Sta. 78 bulkhead is higher etc.. The only approval for conversion as per the Type Certificate note 15 is an E model to a 530FF as per MD drawings...


Good luck getting the drawings or approval from MD


Structurally there are minimal changes; of course drive train changes are more or less a bolt on...


It’s just a matter of time before MD wakes up, or some one STC’s it...


Were rebuilding a 530FF right now and if you have any questions please feel free to contact us Phoenix Heliparts, Mesa AZ 480-985-7994

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  • 6 years later...

A new C-30, new blades, tail rotor driveshaft, tailboom extention, a little structure work. I think its well over 400k. IF MD does it I bet you are talking at least 500k. Of course you would have a C-20 you could sell to cut into the price a bit.

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