Commercial deliveries at Bell Helicopter climbed 15.8 percent last year as the company ramped up shipments of the new Bell 505 Jet Ranger X light single. Overall it handed over 132 helicopters to customers last year, including twenty-seven 505s, four 206L/LTs, forty-four 407s, thirty-six 429s, thirteen 412s and eight Huey IIs. This compares to 114 helicopters in 2016—ten 206L/LTs, fifty-seven 407s, twenty-eight 429s, ten 412s and nine Huey IIs.
Revenues at the helicopter manufacturer increased by $78 million year-over-year, to $3.317 billion, and were largely boosted by higher military volumes and partially offset by lower commercial billings due to a mix that contained more lower-cost Bell 505s. Meanwhile, earnings rose by $28 million, to $415 million, and were also pressured by the lower margins for the Jet Ranger X.
Scott Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Bell Helicopter parent Textron, forecast slightly lower revenues—$3.2 billion—for the helicopter manufacturer in 2018. He is encouraged by the recent rise in oil prices, which will help stabilize offshore oil-and-gas helicopter operators, and “feels good” about rotorcraft demand from China, particularly for the Bell 407 and 505.