Bell Helicopter believes it is poised to rebuild market share in Europe with sales for its latest 429 model, which is on show here at EBACE (Stand 7091). For several years, the European market’s requirements for twin-engine rotorcraft has favored rivals Eurocopter and AgustaWestland.
“But now, with the 429, we have a twin that meets and, in fact, exceeds the latest regulations,” said Danny Maldonado, Bell’s executive v-p for sales and marketing. “We’re seeing a lot more demand for the aircraft in Europe.”
Bell has just won a contract from the Turkish government to provide fifteen 429s, but the aircraft is well suited to a variety of other applications. “Originally, its main mission was EMS [emergency medical service] but we are now seeing interest in corporate use, as well as parapublic, police and even offshore roles,” Maldonado told AIN. “The 429 flies very smoothly and with good hot-and-high performance. It can come with a VIP cabin but also with a flat-floored cargo area that can be customized for all sorts of uses.”
The U.S. manufacturer has been boosting its customer support infrastructure in Europe, largely through the March 2010 acquisition of Prague-based Aviation Services, which supports both Bell’s helicopters and the fixed-wing fleet of its Textron sister company Cessna. The facility provides assistance for operators throughout Europe, as well as in Russia and Ukraine. Maldonado indicated that Bell will likely expand its sales force in the region now that it has a more suitable aircraft to offer in the 429. He also predicted that the new larger 525 Relentless4 model that Bell launched earlier this year will also find favor in Europe.
“We’re back in this marketplace, we are on a mission and we will meet customer requirements by investing in new products,” concluded Maldonado.