By James T. McKenna | March 1, 2007
Bell Helicopters has canceled the 417 program to improve upon its 407 product line, saying it could not differentiate between the products at a price that customers would pay. â€œWhen we looked at what the customer wanted in terms of weight, speed, performance,â€ said Bellâ€™s senior vice president of marketing and sales, Bob Fitzpatrick, â€œthe customer value proposition was not there. That program was not going to be a differentiator in the marketplace.â€ He said Bell had 136 orders on the books, and he and his staff are just starting the process of working with 417 customers on the next step. The 417 was tailored initially at the law-enforcement market, with a target gross weight of 5,500 lb. and a useful load of 2,500 lb., and provisions for a 6,000-lb. gross weight with an external load. The five-seat aircraft was envisioned with a "bubble cockpit" with greater headroom and an integrated Chelton avionics package.