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.
Bell Helicopter’s facility in Prague, Czech Republic, will become the OEM’s regional customization, delivery and aftermarket service center to address growing European demand. In addition to upgrades to the facility, the company laid out its plans for future investments in Europe, including expanded customization capabilities and regional training. The company changed the name of the facility from Aviation Services to Bell Helicopter.
Bell Helicopter revealed at the end of March that it has sold three Bell 505 Jet Ranger Xs to China Star Aero Investment. The sale was made at Heli-Expo, held in Anaheim, California, in February, but not announced at the time. The agreement includes an option to purchase an additional seven aircraft.
Bell said that China Star Aero will use the new helicopter as part of the so-called “Beautiful China” tourism campaign. This will involve an aerial sightseeing initiative, which is supported by China’s central government.
Bell Helicopter (Chalet CD11) is exhibiting two of its products at the Singapore 2014 airshow, the Bell 407GX single and the Bell 429 light twin. The show also marks the debut here of the cockpit demonstrator for the Bell AH-1Z Zulu attack helicopter. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marine Corps is displaying the Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey in both the static and flying displays.
Members of United Auto Workers Local 218 have ratified a new five-year contract with Bell Helicopter (Booth No. C9343). The five-year pact covers 2,500 machinists and other manufacturing workers in Texas.
Union members had been working at Bell since June without a contract as negotiations over health care and pension benefits bogged down. They staged a one-day strike September 5.
Bell Helicopter (Booth No. C9343) continued to expand its global presence last month with purchase agreements covering seven aircraft signed during Jet Expo 2013 in Moscow and a deal with Heli-Charter involving the first Bell 429 configured for air ambulance operations in the UK.
Bell Helicopter will be unveiling its Model 429 light twin with wheeled landing gear on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas (Booth No. C9343). Compared to the $5.8 million standard skidded variant, the $6.17 million Bell 429WLG has a top speed of 152 knots, about five knots faster. The retractable gear and sponsons does add approximately 250 pounds, but range actually increases by 1 nm to 412 nm.
Bell Helicopter delivered the first Bell 407GX to be operated in Russia to Helidrive in St. Petersburg, the rotorcraft manufacturer announced yesterday. The 407GX, which was officially handed over to Helidrive–Bell’s independent representative in northwest Russia–last week, will be used for both private and charter flights. To date, Bell has delivered more than 1,100 Bell 407s, including nearly 100 Bell 407GXs.
Bell Helicopter has delivered the first of its new Bell 407GX aircraft in Russia. St Petersburg-based Helidrive, which is the U.S. manufacturer’s independent representative in northwest Russia, will be using the new single for private and charter use. Bell is displaying an example of the 407GX at this week’s JetExpo show in Moscow.
Bell Helicopter held two maintainers and operators conferences in China at the end of April, in Beijing and Shanghai. The conferences helped Chinese operators learn more about Bell customer support and service enhancements and safety improvements and enabled discussion of technical issues. “We were pleased with the turnout at both locations,” said Chris Jaran, managing director, China. “It was apparent that our Chinese customers are focused on maintaining their Bell Helicopter products at the highest level.”
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