Bell Helicopter is set to make a return to the short light single (SLS) engine helicopter market with a five-seat entry-level aircraft.

The new aircraft is expected to complete its first flight next year.

“Bell Helicopter is no stranger to the short light single market. We developed it nearly fifty years ago with the introduction of the Bell 206 JetRanger and are proud to have produced nearly 7,400 Bell 206 series aircraft since 1967 with over 4,400 remaining in service today,” said John Garrison, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter. “However, we needed to create a new, modernized aircraft to meet requirements of five-seat utility, training, private, and law enforcement operators.”

According to the company, the new helicopter will feature a high visibility, fully flat cabin floor with five forward-facing seats. It is designed to meet performance targets recommended by a customer advisory council, including a speed of 125 knots (232 km), a range of 360 to 420 nautical miles (667 km) and a useful load of 1,500 pounds (608 kg).

It will be powered by the Turbomeca Arrius 2R engine and will feature Full Authority Dual-Channel Engine Control (FADEC). It will also meet IATA Stage 4 noise targets.

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