Bell introduces armed 407, upgraded 412
'Balanced' strategy, bullish outlook
Coming off a boom year for civilian sales, Bell Helicopter announced upgrades to two of its models March 4 and remained bullish in spite of concerns about the impact of sequestration on U.S. military contracts.
The 412EPI, an upgraded version of the twin-engine utility 412EP, and the 407GT, an armed version of the 407GX, were on display at the Bell booth at Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo in Las Vegas.
“I’ve heard people say there’s no mission too tough for the Bell 412,” said President and CEO John L. Garrison. Improvements to the 412EP include the Bell BasiX Pro fully integrated glass flight deck, Pratt & Whitney PT6T-9 Twin Pac engines, and the BLR Strake and FastFin System, which improve hot and high performance.
The glass-cockpit 407GT can be equipped with infrared cameras, light munitions, and precision weapons systems. Garrison said the multi-role tactical light helicopter provides flexibility for armed forces, serving in search-and-rescue or light-attack roles.
Garrison said that Bell’s “balanced” strategy of investing in both civilian and military projects puts it in a position to grow. Specific impacts of sequestration cuts on helicopter contracts with the military are not yet clear, he said, but they could have some impact on service and support. However, Bell has already secured long-term contracts—namely the V-22 and H-1—and expects the commercial side to grow.
Bell had a record year for revenue in 2012, he said, with $4.3 billion in sales. Deliveries increased from 125 in 2011 to 188 in 2012. The market will inevitably ebb and flow, he said, but he remains bullish for the industry. “Fundamentally the commercial market’s going to continue to grow,” he said.
Garrison also announced a retractable landing gear option for the 429 and discussed progress toward the first flight of the 525 Relentless, announced at Heli-Expo 2012.
March 6, 2013