Bell Helicopter Textron plans to set up a helicopter maintenance venture in Bulgaria following the sale of six Bell 206 JetRangers and a single 430 to the country's armed forces.

The US company says it is evaluating two sites for the overhaul unit, both of which would involve co-operation with the Bulgarian military.

"There is no maintenance capability in the country so obviously we would like to have that ability," says Bell. "We have been talking to people to see if we can find an organisation to do this job, but we have not made a decision."

Local media in Bulgaria reports that one of the candidate sites is the army's Letets Aircraft Repair Plant near Sofia, which specialises in maintaining Russian-built helicopters. The other is thought to be the Terem Military Repair Plant.

The chosen site could also offer repair services for approximately 180 Bell helicopters currently operated in south-east Europe.

Source: Flight International