Bell Helicopter is moving rapidly to expand its U.S. and international product support, modifications and sales capabilities. That’s the message from company executives Danny Maldonado, senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, and Eric Cardinali, senior vice president of customer support and services.
Bell is starting executive interior completion services for the 407 and 429 at its recently opened customer support center (shared with sister Textron company Cessna Aircraft) in Singapore, which currently employs 100. One 429 has already been completed at the facility, bound for a customer in Malaysia, and 11 more aircraft are slated to be delivered from the facility this year, Cardinali said. Bell has the potential to complete more aircraft and offer more services there, including aircraft painting. The paint booth on site can accommodate helicopters up to the size of a Bell 525, the company’s new super-medium twin currently under development.
Singapore “was designed with growth in mind,” Cardinali said, noting that it is currently Bell’s third-largest parts depot behind Fort Worth and Amsterdam. The company had a parts warehouse in Singapore for 30 years before the construction of the new customer support facility there in 2011. Maldonado said he had co-located a sales force at the facility that has already produced good results and will sell an estimated 15 to 20 helicopters, mostly in executive configuration, into China this year. He said Bell has 24 independent sales representatives in the region.
Bell is also expanding in India, opening a sales office in Delhi and locating a 429 flight training device there, and is pursuing contracts with the Indian Army, Navy and regional governments. The military contracts are particularly lucrative and could involve a mix of 221 Bell 429s and 407s.
In the U.S., Bell increased deliveries from its 350,000-sq-ft Piney Flatts, Tenn. service and support facility by 40 percent last year over 2011 levels, Cardinali said. “We will customize or complete more than100 aircraft there again this year,” he said. Seventy percent of those deliveries were commercial and 30 percent were destined for the parapublic sector. More than 600 Bell employees currently work at Piney Flatts and the company has plans to expand the facility.