Eastern Europe is the focus of Bell Helicopter’s increasing presence in Europe, particularly the eastern half, with that announcement that its Prague facility (ex-Aviation Services) in the Czech Republic will serve as Europe’s customization, delivery and aftermarket service center.
Speaking at Farnborough Airshow, Bell President and CEO John Garrison said that the company was strategically targeting the eastern European countries for potential business growth, in addition to pushing its products back into western Europe, where it hopes to get oil and gas operator customers for its new entrant, the Bell 525.
Garrison said that the appointment of Air Transport Europe (ATE) as Bell’s new service facility in Slovakia will further strengthen this strategic move. “Our target market stretches from the UK to Russia and Turkey,” noted Garrison. Prior to Farnborough, Garrison had spent the previous week in Europe and says that new contracts such as that with the Swedish National Police for seven Bell 429s is the result of two years’ work of reshaping the company’s strategy. The Swedish Police began their helicopter force with a Bell 47 in the 1960s, explained Garrison, so they were coming back into the Bell family.
“Europe is the second largest helicopter market today and is likely to remain in that position in 20 years, despite the rapid growth of other areas around the world,” he said. He noted that two years ago that there were only two Bell 429s in Europe, whereas today there are in excess of 40 of the type.
He added that feedback on the launch of the Bell 505 has been “outstanding.” Out of the 200 or more Letters of Intent that Bell had received for the 505, Garrison pointed out that 40 have come from Europe. “Most people say that they are glad Bell is back with a new product in the market segment it created,” he stated.
Garrison’s corporate message for Farnborough was that Bell’s focus is on “product, people and facilities.”
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