Although certification still awaits, Bell Helicopter is hoping to generate oil-and-gas, military transport, and search-and-rescue sales interest in the 16- to 19-passenger fly-by-wire Bell 525 super-medium helicopter. A mock-up is set to appear on static display at the Dubai Airshow (Chalet A43–45). The aircraft was also on show at the DWC VIP Terminal for a month through the first week of November.
In the Middle East region, Bell focuses on law enforcement with the Bell 429, and latest variant Bell 412EPI; military trainer opportunities with the Bell 505 and Bell 407; and the light-attack segment with the Bell 407. Bell’s most recent delivery in the Middle East took place last year, when EDIC Horizon Aviation Academy, in Al Ain, took two Bell 429s. Today, AIN understands Horizon operates a Bell-only fleet of 28 helicopters, including the Bell 206 and Bell 407.
Bell is a subsidiary of the U.S.’s Textron Inc. “It's a very diverse business,” Sameer Rehman, managing director for Africa and the Middle East, told AIN. “Bell comprises about 25- to 30 percent of Textron’s revenue, and our business is global. I manage [the region] for non-foreign military sale (FMS) type products.
“The scope of work that we're doing here is mostly across the civil and para-public segments. This includes law enforcement, oil-and-gas, emergency medical services, and flight training, and para-public activities, like the coast guard, navy, air force, army, and also utility work, such as power-line washing.”
Customers in the region operating the Bell 412, in a number of variants, include Falcon Aviation (oil-and-gas), Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) (oil-and-gas), Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Bahrain Police (law enforcement), the Saudi Red Crescent (search-and-rescue), and Egypt’s Petroleum Air Services (PAS) (oil-and-gas and corporate transport). “The aircraft is recognized as a workhorse in the region, and gets the job done in the harsh environment,” a Bell spokesperson said.
In addition to Bell 412s, ADA operates the Bell 212 and also uses six Bell 412 training simulators. PAS also operates the Bell 206 and 212. Another major regional Bell operator is Qatar’s Gulf Helicopters.
Abu Dhabi's Falcon Aviation employs the Bell 412 EPI mainly on oil-and-gas, and charter. “Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has some of the toughest oil-field helicopter operations in the world,” the company said. “This is due to the sheer number of platforms in different oil fields. Our Bell 412s do at least 30 to 40 landings each day…The underslung load-transfer with the Bell 412 fleet is very challenging task.”
“Helicopters, today, are used across a variety of areas,” Rehman said. “In an environment where infrastructure is required to be built, where economies are growing, ease of transportation is now top of many people's agenda. As militaries are increasing spending to protect borders and defend their nations, so helicopters are central to that strategy across the region. We build capability and show the world what Bell can do today—and what Bell is going to do tomorrow.”