April 20, 2019 superfreak8

Bell promises to build 407GXi in USA if selected by US Navy

Bell has confirmed that if selected for US Navy’s TH-XX trainer contest, its 407GXi will be assembled at a facility in Ozark, Alabama.

Although the company bills itself as the “only US-based manufacturer” to be participating in the competition, the airframer builds its entire civil range – including the 407 – in Mirabel, Canada.

Texas-headquartered Bell submitted its offer to the navy on 2 April, it says. There had previously been uncertainty as to whether it would offer the light-single 407GXi for the requirement, or the light-twin 429.

One key criterion demanded by the navy is that the helicopter is qualified for instrument flight rules (IFR) operations. Bell has previously said it was seeking IFR certification for the 407, although it is unclear if has received that approval.

“Our Ozark team has proven their capabilities delivering Bell 407s to the navy through the [Northrop Grumman MQ-8C] Fire Scout programme,” states Bell chief executive Mitch Snyder.

Bell faces competition for the 130-unit deal from Airbus Helicopters with the H135 light-twin and Leonardo Helicopters with the single-engined TH-119.

Both aircraft would also be built in the USA if selected: at plants in Columbus, Mississippi and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, respectively.

A decision is expected from the US Navy later this year as it moves ahead with replacement of its Bell TH-57 Sea Ranger fleet.

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