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​ROTORCRAFT: Bell takes aim at para-public market

Bell Helicopter sees strong opportunities in Asia-Pacific’s para-public sector, with governments gaining awareness of the various roles helicopters can serve in the interests of the public.

Sameer Rahman, managing director of Bell Helicopter Asia-Pacific, notes that helicopters can be particularly useful in a region that is prone to various environmental and law enforcement challenges.

Rehman spoke to FlightGlobal at the company’s stand at the inaugural Rotorcraft Asia show. The US helicopter company had a large presence at the show, which included three aircraft on static display: the Bell 505, the 407GTX, and the 429.

“More and more, governments recognize the need to divert funds toward helicopter operations,” he says. “The recognise the value of vertical lift. Global warming is an issue for many of these countries, with typhoons, rising waters, and flooding. Helicopters are perfect solution to help people in distress.”

Rehman touched on the outlook for specific types in the company’s portfolio.

He says the light-single Bell 505 is proving to be particularly popular in the region, with a “healthy mix” of buyers involved in missions such as training, air taxi services, and tourism.

Rehman is also optimistic about the type at the opposite end of the Bell portfolio, the 10t Bell 525 Relentless. He says the company has received interest from up to 70 customers globally, and reiterated the company’s position that the large fly-by-wire type will receive certification in 18 to 24 months.

He adds that the type’s prospects in the region have not been greatly dented by weakness in the oil and gas sector, which has hurt demand for large helicopters globally.

“The oil and gas market will recover, and the 525 will be the ideal platform for that when it happens, but for the moment the para-public market will be our focus.”

Rehman also feels that the 525 has strong potential for the VVIP segment. “This will be the flagship helicopter for captains of industry and heads of state. ”

He adds that he welcomes the establishment of the Rotorcraft Asia show. “We’re spending time with the right people and discussing the issues specific to rotorcraft.”

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