Bell Helicopter is here on the static line exhibiting a Bell 429 light twin with a VVIP interior, a mockup of the Bell 505 JetRanger X light single, a flight simulator of the Bell 525 super medium twin and a weaponized Bell 407 GXP light single.
The U.S. airframer (a subsidiary of Textron, Chalet A43-A44) is also announcing the sale of two Bell 525s with VIP interiors to two unnamed private customers in the Middle East, via distributor BGS Corporation. “The number of orders for VIP 525s is in the two digits,” Patrick Moulay, v-p global sales told AIN. With the simulator, Bell wants to show helicopter pilots how fly-by-wire will change the way they fly, he added. The first prototype of the Bell 525 has been flying since July and a second one is to join the development program by year-end.
The Bell 429 on display had its cabin designed by Italy-based Mecaer Aviation Group. It is the first time this cabin design has been at the Dubai Airshow. “It is so quiet you can have a conversation without headsets, which is real progress on the light twin segment,” Moulay commented.
For the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, the manufacturer has received more than 350 orders. “Three prototypes are flying and we are in the final phase of development,” Moulay said. He expects certification to be awarded within six months.
The 407 GXP was armed by Northstar Aviation. “The light attack helicopter market is very active, especially in the region,” Moulay noted. Bell 407 sales in the Middle East are also significant for VIP and EMS operations, he went on.
Globally, the helicopter market is in a down cycle but Bell is doing relatively well, Moulay said. “In sales, the industry is 30 percent below where it was last year, and recovery won’t happen until 2017,” he predicted, citing low oil prices, geopolitical instabilities, unfavorable currency exchange rates and disappointing GDPs in some countries as the main factors. Nevertheless, this year Bell forecasts it will receive more orders than in 2014, and that deliveries will remain level or increase. Hence, the company predicts its market share will grow.
Most notable are its healthy bookings in the U.S. and in the Asia Pacific region (where a recent success was the signature of the Japanese MoD’s UH-X contract), while the Middle East has also been strong. However, China has been “very difficult” and Europe is stagnating, according to Moulay. Sales in Latin America have been “very stable” for Bell, he said.