Jason Grogan told his eight-year-old daughter that he was “going to fly a big orange helicopter” and he’d be home later that July day.
But Grogan didn’t make it home as he and another test pilot for Bell Helicopter were killed when the prototype 525 Relentless helicopter crashed.
The cause of the fatal crash has yet to be determined by federal investigators but it appeared the main rotor struck the front and back of the helicopter which then broke up in mid-flight.
The 525 Relentless is the largest commercial helicopter Bell has ever developed and is designed to seat 16 to 20 people. It is using a new fly-by-wire flight control system and was originally expected to be ready for sale by the end of 2017.
With the crash, flight tests of the Relentless have been halted until a federal investigation into the crash is completed, likely by next summer.
“We’re taking this process very seriously and we’re still very committed to this program,” said Bell CEO Mitch Snyder after a chamber luncheon in December.