Bell Helicopter has started building the facility in Lafayette, La., where it will assemble the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X light single. The $26.3 million, 82,300-sq-ft hangar, to be completed by June, is being built on a 14.5-acre site leased from Lafayette Regional Airport.
The helicopter manufacturer expects to begin hiring up to 115 people for the new facility by year-end, with the goal of having Bell 505 assembly operations up and running by the end of next year following certification of the rotorcraft.
To date, Bell has received purchase agreements for more than 200 copies of the five-seat, single-turbine helicopter since it began taking orders at Heli-Expo in February this year. The new entry-level helicopter draws on Bell’s “proven technology” and nearly half century of experience with the 206 JetRanger, which defined the short light single helicopter market when it entered service in 1967.
Meanwhile, assembly of the 505 prototype is progressing at Bell’s facility in Mirabel, Quebec. The company expects to fly it in November.