With the first flight of its new light single-engined 505 Jet Ranger X under its belt, Bell Helicopter arrives at MEBA confident it can add to the backlog for the type in the region.

The maiden sortie for the new rotorcraft took place in Mirabel, Canada on 11 November and Bell has a full-size mock-up of the 505 on display in Dubai.

So far it has 19 commitments for the Turbomeca Arrius 2R-powered Jet Ranger X from customers in the Middle East and Africa, says Steve Suttles, the airframer’s vice-president of sales for the region.

However, Suttles is confident that figure will increase. “The expectation is that it will grow tremendously” as this is the “first opportunity we have had to present [the 505] into the region," he says.

Although he acknowledges that the single-engined 505 may be less well suited to the Middle East’s hot conditions, “Africa is where we expect the aircraft to sell like crazy.”

There he sees the helicopter’s 680kg (1,500lb) payload as setting apart from its competition, enabling mission equipment such as forward-looking infrared cameras or spotlights to be installed, making it an all-round utility or law enforcement asset.

Source: Flight Daily News