While Boeing is stepping up attacks on European government support for Airbus, Bell Helicopter is unlikely to launch a similar campaign against Eurocopter. Although the US helicopter manufacturer, like Boeing, has been overtaken in commercial market share by its European rival, Bell chief executive Mike Redenbaugh suggests those railing over subsidies "get over it".

Instead, after just over a year as chief executive, Redenbaugh is "working to make Bell number one" by deploying its "treasure chest of technologies". One of his first moves was to establish the Xworx research and development organisation, focused on rapid prototyping of technologies.

Behind "black doors" at the Xworx, he says, work is accelerating on technologies for the new MAPL family of light single- and twin-turbine helicopters, and last month Bell began flight-testing a low-noise tail fan. "We are testing component technology that is scalable, while we decide the optimum market entry point."

The first in the highly common MAPL family is planned to enter production before 2010. Certification is expected to take 36-48 months, "so we're coming to a decision point soon", Redenbaugh says.

Source: Flight International