Bell is extending its support reach in China, appointing Reignwood Star General Aviation as the first Bell-authorized maintenance center in China. The announcement was one of several the Textron subsidiary (Booth C4007) made on Tuesday, ranging from purchase agreements to training and marketing alliances to new safety equipment.
“We are building capability to bring training, services, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul solutions locally [to China],” said Michael Reagan, director for Bell Global Services. Located at the Reignwood Beijing Miyun Airport, Reignwood operates the largest Bell helicopter fleet in China, comprising five 505s, eleven 407s, five 429s, and three 206s.
The service center announcement came in concert with Bell’s first 407GXI delivery to Xian-based operator Shaanxi Helicopter. It is one of 100 Bell 407s originally ordered in 2017, which are intended to be used as the base fleet for an aeromedical services and public safety network in China. “The Bell 407GXI brings advanced capabilities that will benefit the people of China with better quality of life and healthcare services,” said Jacinto Monge, managing director for Bell North Asia. The 407GXi received type certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China last month.
In other Asia news, Bell signed a purchase agreement with Subaru of Japan for a Bell 412EPI to be flown by the Nagano Prefecture Firefighting Department for disaster relief and emergency response missions in the mountainous region.
Bell also signed purchase agreements on the African continent this week. A 407GXI and one 505 will go to National Airways, while Africair signed up for a 505 to be delivered in Ethiopia.
In Europe, the company logged purchase agreements for three more 429s, augmenting the more than 75 of that type already in operation on the continent, according to Duncan Van de Velde, Bell managing director for Europe and Russia. At the show, Bell signed with Heliclub for one helicopter to be operated in Ukraine. This comes on the heels of last week’s agreements with corporate customers based in Germany and iFly in Greece.
Meanwhile, Bell announced plans to offer the 407 single for the U.S. Navy’s THXX helicopter training program and hinted that it might offer the 429 light twin as well. Bell CEO Mitch Snyder said the company is working on gaining FAA IFR certification for the 407 by the end of this summer.
In the new equipment arena, Bell noted certification of the first health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) for the 407. Bell is offering the GPMS Foresight MX HUMS, which employs “smart sensor” architecture, in the long light single.
On the training front, Bell is teaming with Arizona-based Universal Helicopters (UHI, Booth C4623) for its first Bell-approved and -certified training facility in the U.S. UHI is taking over Bell’s ab initio and recurrent flight training for the Bell 206B light single starting in April.
Finally, Bell revealed this week that it has formed a partnership with PGA of America to support the 2019 101st PGA Championship, which is to be held at Bethpage Black golf course on Long Island, New York, from May 16 to 19.
“We are excited to offer customers attending the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black a one-of-a-kind experience in the Bell 429,” said Susan Griffin, Bell executive v-p of commercial sales. The helicopters will transport executives, corporate hospitality clients, and PGA officials from multiple sites in Manhattan and the surrounding New York metro area to and from an on-site landing zone located at Bethpage State Park, just minutes from the PGA Championship.