Bell Helicopter is looking at setting up a pilot-training facility in India and establishing the country as its Asian regional hub for research and development. The proposals are part of the company’s bid to supply 197 light helicopters to the Indian armed forces, writes Shyam Ravindran.

Bell says it is in the early stages of looking for potential local business partners and a decision is envisaged by the fourth quarter when India is expected to select between the Bell 407 and Eurocopter AS350 for its light helicopter requirement.

Setting up an Indian training centre “looks pretty attractive”, the company says. The proposed facility will be equipped with a helicopter, simulators and classrooms. The decision to consider a facility followed discussions with India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation about the professional standards of Indian helicopter pilots. Operations would begin in 2007. The US firm says it “may make sense” to establish a repair and overhaul facility in the country.

The Textron Global Centre in Bangalore, which provides engineering services for all divisions including Bell, is increasing its staff from 120 to 200. Bell plans to use the centre for more R&D activity, and intends to shift work related to technical manuals and interactive online support to the Indian centre.

Source: Flight International