Singapore Air Show

Bell outlines progress on its key projects

 - February 19, 2008, 11:38 PM

Bell Helicopter announced upgrades for the in-service 206L LongRanger and the Model 407 and 412 during a press conference here Monday. The U.S.-based manufacturer also said the 429 should gain certification late this year.

The Bell 206L will benefit from structural and performance upgrades for the fielded aircraft, while the Model 407 will receive a glass cockpit option. Meanwhile, Bell has applied for European certification for the 412EP. Company officials here gave only outlines, but more details on the upgrades will probably become available in a few days at the Heli-Expo convention in Houston, Texas.

The main civil development under way for the company’s Fort Worth, Texas headquarters is the 7,000-pound Bell 429 twin, three of which are flying now. The third, a preproduction example, made its maiden flight late last month. It has flown a total of 560 hours. Bell has notched 260 orders for the 429.

In India, the government is expected to issue a new request for proposal after it scrapped a deal with Eurocopter for 197 light singles. CEO Dick Millman said Bell already has answered a new request for information. It will again pitch the Model 407, a full-size mockup of which can be seen on Stand No. S07.

According to Millman, the hottest-selling places in the Asia Pacific region are India–largely due to the offshore oil and gas transport market–Australia and Japan.