Bell contemplates co-production with HAL

The Bell 407 is competing with Eurocopter's 350b3 to replace the Indian Army's ageing Cheetah fleet.

In 2005 Bell had proposed delivering 60 Bell 407 helicopters in the configuration desired by the Indian Army and provide100-per cent technology transfer of the Bell design to HAL along with joint production of 137 aircraft with HAL.

Texas-based Bell and HAL had signed an MoU to identify potential projects ranging from manufacturing and assembly to production planning, engineering and product support Fitzpatrick said.

According to Robert Fitzpatrick, senior vice-president, marketing and sales, Bell Helicopter, the Bell 407 performed "extremely well" in the Indian Army's cold and hot weather trials. "It either met or exceeded the Indian Army's requirements."

Fitzpatrick said that demand from both commercial and military markets for model 407 aircraft was growing "tremendously'. Fitzpatrick is currently in Bangalore for the Aero India 2007 air show.

He also said that Bell was also exploring industrial partnerships opportunities with other Indian firms as the US aerospace firm "is committed to working with an Indian partner" to develop training facilities for rotary wing pilots and final selection for Bell Helicopter- certified training in the second half of this year.