Bangalore: The Bell 407 Shen, the military version of the popular Bell 407 single engine helicopter, has been evaluated by the Indian Army for acquisition. It has landed on helipads at altitudes of over 20,000 ft in Ladakh and has flown in temperatures of under –20 degrees Celsius, the company's Senior Vice President for Marketing and Sales Bob Fitzpatrick told journalists at the Bangalore Aero Show.
The Bell 407 Shen is competing for the Army's requirement of 197 helicopters. Refusing to reveal any further details as the bid is still under evaluation, Fitzpatrick said the copter has proven it can operate in harsh conditions with a very minimum of maintenance effort. He said the civilian version had proved this by becoming the first Indian aircraft to fly in Antarctica, as long ago as 1999. The Bell has also landed at an altitude of 23,000 ft in India.
Fitzpatrick also felicitated the company's longstanding customers in India, including Global Vectra Helicorp, which operates 18 Bell helicopters; United Helicharters, which has logged more than 40,000 hours flying Bell helicopters with a 'zero' accident rate, and its very first customer, Pushpaka Aviation, which still flies a 50-year-old Bell 47 helicopter it bought second hand in 1969.