Bell Helicopter’s petition for an exemption to the normal category Part 27 weight limit of 7,000 pounds was recently denied. If it had passed, the Bell 429 light twin would be able to operate at 7,500 pounds. Several countries, including Transport Canada granted these exemptions earlier in the year. A Bell spokesperson said that they intend on appealing the FAA ruling. As of right now, the ruling is crippling Bell’s ability to sell the 429 as an IFR EMS aircraft in the U.S. The FAA claims that if they were to allow the exemption, it would take away from the stricter Part 29 transport category requirements. The Part 29 was instilled for helicopters with a maximum gross weight of over 7,000 pounds. According to them, this would give the Bell an unfair market advantage. However, the FAA did disclose that there is the possibility that the new requirements would be reevaluated in time.
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