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Bell bets on parapublic operators driving demand in China

Bell Helicopters expects that reforms to lower airspace operating rules coupled with an expected rise in medevac operations will drive huge growth in the Chinese market in coming years.

“The boom in the Chinese market is taking place in front of us,” says Patrick Moulay, Bell’s senior vice-president international sales.

The focus for Bell is on the parapublic operator market, with helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) seen as the big opportunity – particularly for the 407.

Moulay says that there are only around 60 EMS configured helicopters operating in China, which is low compared to the USA and Europe.

Last year the manufacturer received an order for 100 407GXPs from the Shaanxi Helicopter, which Moulay says makes the 407 “the most successful helicopter aircraft in China.”

In addition, the manufacturer is eyeing the potential for the 429 with government customers for use in the search and rescue (SAR) mission.

The manufacturer displayed a 407 at its stand at Airshow China, and a full-size mock-up of a 525 Relentless.

Although the larger helicopter is unlikely to have broad market appeal in China, Moulay adds that it could appeal to “the really top clients” when operated in a VVIP configuration.

The manufacturer is looking to gain an edge in the market through its service and support network to support the growth in the market.

Moulay says that alongside its “centre of excellence” for customer support in Singapore, it is looking to develop logistics and MRO centres in China in the next few years.

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