Despite the considerable popularity of the Bell Helicopter 429 as an emergency medical services (EMS) platform the airframer is not ignoring its potential for VIP transportation either.
Bell has brought a VIP-roled example of the medium twin, in this case the WLG (wheeled landing gear) variant to MEBA – the final leg of a tour of the Middle East that has also seen stop-offs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and featured a spectacular landing atop Abu Dhabi’s Capital Gate tower.
“The airplane worldwide is probably mostly selling in the law-enforcement and EMS versions, but makes a fantastic corporate helicopter and a beautiful VIP model," says Steve Suttles vice-president Middle East.
It has yet to bag a sale of the WLG model into the Middle East – although has seen success with an EMS-configured 429 – but Suttles thinks that is about to change.
“The last time we were out with a 429 it was a skid-gear aircraft and what we kept hearing from the market was they wanted landing gear,” he says.
“We gave them what they asked for – so we have high expectations.”
Italy’s Mecaer has already launched a VVIP interior for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW200-engined 429, which it calls MAGnificent.