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MEBA: Show appearance caps Bell 429's regional tour

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.