Pilot Review of 206L Main and Tail Rotor Blades

Initially posted by Quantum Helicopters pilot Dean Scarrow on October 26, 2019 in the Bell 206 JetRanger LongRanger OH-58 Kiowas group on Facebook. Re-printed (with permission) verbatim with light editing for typos and spacing.

Concerning the VHA main and tail rotor blades on the BH206LR.

I’ve had the pleasure of putting the new VHA main and tail rotor blades through its paces since Aug/19 through to mid Oct/19. The roughly 200 hours have been a combination of point to point flights, gross load flight from departures to landing with as heavy a load with in its gross weight parameter, I’ve long lined, I’ve done a combination of forward, rearward and side ward flights, I’ve auto’d.

Both heavy internal and external combinations have only indicated one thing. These blades both main and tail rotor, has brought the Longranger to the standard that the Bell manual preaches. The Bell OEM blades have been particularly sub standard by comparison. The difference is like apples and oranges.

There doesn’t appear the necessity to even write about the Bell OEM blades because everyone knows of them.

From the start, the asymmetry of the [VHA] M/R, its rigidity, and the curved smooth tips have provided superior, lifting, speed and controllability. The L/R is now a different aircraft. 

The single change, I as a pilot have had to do, is change my habits to provide room to let the VHA blades work to their potential. It appears to provide excelled performance as a result of slowing down my input feeds. It took a few attempts, but the results showed themselves time after time.

I’ll go on about the VHA main rotor blades again, but as for now let me be the first to say, take a chance as an operator or pilot. These blades are what Bell had been looking for in the first place. VHA has more than achieved that end.

The tail rotor blades have excelled in this regard as well. No longer am I living on hard left pedal anymore. As most can attest, whether the aircraft is flown with or without weight, the left pedal to the floormat, is never far enough to the floor. The VHA tail rotor pedals are now for me, stable and neutral. At no time in the last 3 months have I adjusted for any combination of flight to hard left pedal. If I did I would be still revolving in circles. Who da’ thought. 

Three areas have made the LR a better aircraft. Since Rolls Royce decided to pick up the parts that Allison decided to discard, the engine no longer leaks oil. That in itself is novel. There are so many more positive attributes RR has brought to the table to provide a breath of fresh air to the 250-C20 series. It was so tired for such a long time. It’s back!

In addition to RR stepping up the game, so has VHA. Between the Main and Tail Rotor Blade improvements on the LR, it has simply become a better aircraft. Lift, speed, controlability, comfort and reliability have now been put to the front of the class. Personally I always thought Allison was the ugly twin sister to Ariel. Not any more! 

Speaking of coning on the VHA blades. There isn’t any! Not a true statement. What is true is this. The Bell OEM blades were designed with so much twist and flexability that the tips went virtually out of sight when lifting heavy loads. The spill of mechanical air was so great, the lifting capabilities of the aircraft were reduced to the point of ridiculous. Not so with the rigidity and stability of the VHA blades. The spill of the mechanical air has been reduced substantially due to the rigid design and the blade tips are within sight. 
Not to downplay Bell at all, I’d firmly say though, had it not been for the reliability of the Nodal suspension in the roof of the LR this story may have been different.

We’re in an era of new designs and material changes. Going in to polycarbonates has been a huge growth spurt in blade construction and it’s evolution. Better things to come I hope!

I think I’ve said enough at the moment, but for those that are interested in switching teams and are hesitant, don’t be. The positives far exceed the negatives. Besides it only took 2 runs to balance the blades after installation. Not bad huh!

As for the VHA blades on the straight B models, I have nothing to add. No pros or cons but I assume what I read is correct.

Best regards. I have 40 years flying in almost every facet and angle a helicopter can twist, bend or fall. You might say I fully endorse the Van Horn Aviation blades on the LR series. Finally the LongRanger has become a better aircraft than it once was. Looking forward to the next significant change.

Pilot Dean Scarrow with a Quantum Helicopters 206L LongRanger equipped with VHA main and tail rotor blades resting comfortably on a ledge in the Canadian Rockies.