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SINGAPORE: Bell to revitalise commercial portfolio

Bell Helicopter is placing renewed emphasis on its commercial helicopter portfolio, with the objective of earning 50% of its revenue from commercial sales.

"We want to revitalise our commercial portfolio," said Jeffrey Lowinger, Bell's executive vice-president of engineering.

The objective is to achieve an equal split in revenue from the company's defence and commercial business, compared with the roughly 60%-40% ratio between its military and commercial sectors.

This involves investing in both products and processes, he said.

"We're investing in the products and solutions that our customers value," he told Flightglobal at the Singapore Airshow.

He confirmed that the Bell AH-1Z attack helicopter is a contender in South Korea's 36 aircraft heavy attack helicopter (AH-X) requirement. He declined to provide details about Bell's planned approach toward Seoul's proposed Korea Attack Helicopter (KAH).

As part of AH-X offsets, South Korea's Defence Acquisition Program Administration is likely to require the competition's winner to provide substantial development assistance with the KAH.

"Offsets are a key area, but there are only so many offsets you can handle," added Lowinger.

He added that Bell is making a push for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in the Asia-Pacific. Lowinger said the Osprey would be suitable for a number of roles within the region, such as in long-range search and rescue (SAR) and air ambulance roles.

"There is a great opportunity in the Asia-Pacific for an aircraft such as the Osprey that can self deploy," said Lowinger.

With regard to the Osprey's higher cost to obtain than helicopters, Lowinger said Osprey customers actually get two aircraft in one package: a helicopter and a turboprop aircraft.

He also sees opportunities for the developmental Bell 525 "super medium" helicopter in the region, particularly among helicopter operators in the region's resources sector. The Bell 525 will be able to carry up to 16 passengers.

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