Bell Helicopter last week concluded demonstrations of its 412EPI to defense, coast guard and public safety officials in Vietnam, then moved on to Nepal to highlight the twin-engine 412EPI’s high-altitude performance.
The demonstrations came less than a month after U.S. President Barack Obama's May visit to Vietnam, during which he declared that a four-decade embargo on arms shipments to that Southeast Asian nation would be lifted.
The 412EPI was based at Gia Lam Airport, on the eastern bank of the Red River in the capital city of Hanoi, where Vietnam Helicopter Corp. has operations. Bell in March said it had reached an agreement with Vietnam Helicopter to pursue opportunities in the Vietnamese market.
Bell sees an opportunity to supplant Russian-built helicopters with the 412EPI in the Vietnam market and to complete with Airbus Helicopters with its Model 429. Last September, Vietnam Helicopter hosted demonstrations of the wheeled landing gear version of the 429 from Gia Lam.
Vietnam Helicopter is a leading operator in Southeast Asia, with more than 30 years experience providing services from offshore transport and search and rescue to tourism and charter flights. It performs maintenance and trains pilots and mechanics.
The company said it also has performed thousands of flights supporting a joint U.S.-Vietnam project to search for the remains of American servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War.
In Nepal, the 412EPI performed takeoffs and landings at 15,200 ft and hovered in ground effect at nearly 18,000 ft density altitude, according to the manufacturer. The twin then flew to 20,000 ft pressure altitude near Mount Everest, Bell said.
Its pilots also demonstrated the 412EPI's performance in the Annapurna Range of mountains around Jomsom Airfield in western Nepal. That range includes 30 peaks above 20,000 ft. Jomson has a field elevation of 8,976 ft.
The EPI improves the 412EP with the Bell BasiX Pro integrated glass cockpit, which Bell says is designed specifically to meet the requirements of twin-engine helicopters and is optimized for IFR, Category A and JAR OPS3 compliant operations.
The Vietnam and Nepal stops are part of Bell's five-month tour of the 412EPI across the Asia Pacific region.
Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter