Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison said that the price of the company’s new short light single (SLS) helicopter would be pegged near $1 million. Bell is expected to reveal a mock-up of its re-entry into the light single market at its booth on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Garrison said the market for the new helicopter is “incredibly price sensitive, right around that $1 million price point.” The main competition for the SLS, the Robinson R66, is priced at $839,000 for the base helicopter. Garrison said Bell plans to bring the SLS in at that target by using proven technologies including the transmission and rotor blade system from the in-production Bell 206L4, the Garmin G1000H avionics platform similar to the one currently flying in the Bell 407GX and the Turbomeca Arrius 2R engine. Garrison reiterated that he expects the first flight of both the SLS and Bell’s larger 525 Relentless medium twin by year-end and he indicated that both programs are on track.
Garrison said Bell increased deliveries of its civil helicopters in 2013 by 12 percent, from 188 in 2012 to 213 in 2013, with a definite bias to the export market, noting that 64 percent of all commercial deliveries last year were exported, but more than 80 percent of new orders came from international customers. He said he expects to see the company’s commercial sales grow as global gross domestic product (GDP) increases. “There is almost a 1:1 ratio between GDP growth and the growth of new rotorcraft sales,” he said.
On the military side, Garrison said that U.S. military purchases of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor were beginning to decline according to plan, but that foreign military interest in the aircraft had increased following a recent order for six by the Government of Israel and inquiries from Japan. Garrison said Bell is confident that its third-generation tiltrotor, the V-280 Valor, currently scheduled for first flight in 2017, would best meet the needs of a downsized U.S. Army that would need speed and range to project troop insertion and conduct speedy evacuations.