Bell has sold 35 429 Global Rangers in the Asia-Pacific region, including to operators in China and India. Vice-president Asia Pacific sales Max Wiley says Asian customers account for around a quarter of all the 429s sold since the programme was launched last year.

Operators in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand have ordered the light twin-engine helicopter, which is scheduled to be delivered from late 2007. Wiley says delivery slots are sold out until 2009, but Bell and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which is manufacturing the cabin, are considering increasing their production capacity in response to the high demand.

Bell unveiled a mock-up of a utility variant of the 429 last week at the Seoul air show. Mock-ups of corporate and aeromedical evacuation variants were unveiled at Heli-Expo in February. Wiley says most of the 429 orders in Asia are for the utility variant.

KAI has been given sales responsibility for South Korea and China in exchange for its risk-sharing role in the programme. But Wiley says so far the sales in these two countries have not been made by KAI, but the two companies are now integrating their sales efforts. In South Korea, UII Aviation will also help Bell and KAI with selling the 429 and is responsible for the first sale to a South Korean customer. KAI says it also has the option of later establishing a second assembly line for the 429 if demand in Asia warrants it.

- Bell plans to deliver a 430 in emergency medical service (EMS) configuration to Bangkok Hospital in December. Bell says Bangkok Hospital, which operates hospitals throughout Thailand, plans to establish the first helicopter EMS network in South-East Asia.

- Bell says it will deliver the world’s first all-digital electronic news gathering helicopter at the end of this year to South Korean television station KBS. High-definition electronic broadcast equipment is being installed on a Bell 430, which was selected by KBS for the mission because of its low vibration profile.

Source: Flight International