Bell Helicopter will build its new short light single (SLS) helicopter at Lafayette Regional Airport in Louisiana, the company announced on Tuesday. Bell’s decision came after the state offered a generous incentive package that includes performance-based grants of $4 million for lease support on a new 82,300-sq-ft, $26.3 million hangar facility on a 14.5-acre site being funded by the state, $3.8 million for infrastructure and equipment and $200,000 to reimburse relocation expenses.
Bell will invest $11.4 million in equipment and tooling and will hire an estimated 115 employees for the plant. Construction of the assembly hangar will begin in the first half of next year. Bell will begin hiring employees for the new facility by 2015, and assembly operations will start by 2016, following certification of the facility and the aircraft.
Announced at the Paris Air Show this past summer, the SLS will be powered by the Turbomeca Arrius 2R and feature Garmin G1000H avionics, a useful load of 1,500 pounds, a speed of 125 knots and a cruising range of more than 400 nm.