Bell plans to triple size of its fleet in na­tion dur­ing the next five years

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A ma­jor global heli­copter man­u­fac­turer is bullish about China’s eco­nomic prospects and plans to triple the size of its fleet there in the next five years.

Bell Heli­copter Tex­tron Inc, a lead­ing United States-based avi­a­tion com­pany, has 20 per­cent of the coun­try’s mar­ket share of the civil tur­bine mar­ket with 110 he­li­copters.

Euro­pean gi­ant Air­bus SE holds top spot with 36 per­cent.

Other key play­ers in the sec­tor are Leonardo SpA, Rus­sian He­li­copters JSC and Siko­rsky Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion.

“This mar­ket is ex­pected to grow by 20 per­cent ev­ery year,” said Pa­trick Moulay, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent for global sales and mar­ket­ing at Bell.

“For ex­am­ple, there are only about 30 he­li­copters ded­i­cated to emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices in China, whereas the num­ber is 1,200 in the United States,” he added.

Over­all, there are 555 general avi­a­tion he­li­copters in op­er­a­tion in China com­pared to 6,590 in the US, ac­cord­ing to data re­leased by Bell.

But the coun­try’s fleet is pro­jected to double in the next five years.

“We ex­pect a sig­nif­i­cant de­mand for he­li­copters in China,” Moulay said. “This will be fu­eled by growth in the fields of emer­gency med­i­cal servi- ces, search and res­cue, law en­force­ment, fire­fight­ing and tourism.”

Last week, Bell signed a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar deal with Shaanxi Heli­copter Co Ltd to sell 100 Bell 407 GXPs he­li­copters, with­out re­veal­ing de­tailed fi­nan­cial fig­ures.

It is the largest heli­copter or­der that Bell has re­ceived from a Chi­nese com­pany, with de­liv­ery dates pen­ciled in within the next five years.

The air­craft will be mainly used for emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices and law en­force­ment du­ties.

“We are very pleased to sign this pur­chase agree­ment with Bell,” Yuan Xiaon­ing, pres­i­dent of Shaanxi En­ergy Group, the par­ent com­pany of Shaanxi Heli­copter, told Bell’s of­fi­cial web­site.

“The 407GXP meets the Chi­nese mar­ket’s de­mand for a sin­gle light heli­copter. It has ex­cep­tional per­for­mance and has been widely used in a broad range of seg­ments, in­clud­ing emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices, tourism and fire­fight­ing, among oth­ers,” he added.

Last year, Air­bus re­ported that China had be­come its big­gest civil­ian heli­copter mar­ket in terms of an­nual or­ders.

To cope with de­mand, the Euro­pean con­glom­er­ate has de­cided to roll out its first heli­copter assem­bly line in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince.

The plant will cost about 10 mil­lion eu­ros ($11.4 mil­lion) and should be com­pleted by next year.

“We are con­fi­dent that this project will ful­fill the re­quire­ments of lo­cal cus­tomers, while sup­port­ing the development of cru­cial heli­copter ser­vices,” Guil­laume Faury, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Air­bus He­li­copters SAS, told China Daily.

“It will be jointly op­er­ated by Air­bus He­li­copters and Qing­dao United General Avi­a­tion Com­pany,” he added.

By 2020, China plans to build more than 500 air­ports and more than 5,000 general avi­a­tion air­craft will be in op­er­a­tion. The in­dus­try is pro­jected to be worth more than 1 tril­lion yuan ($1.4 bil­lion) by then, ac­cord­ing to the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China.

Still, China faces a short­age of heli­copter pi­lots and this has had a neg­a­tive ef­fect on growth.

To solve the prob­lem, Bell plans to co­op­er­ate with Chi­nese in­dus­trial part­ners and help ease train­ing pres­sures, in ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing ser­vices for air­craft main­te­nance.

We will re­gard green credit as­sets with qual­i­fied rat­ings as col­lat­eral, a move to en­cour­age banks to is­sue green loans.” Chen Yulu, Peo­ple’s Bank of China Vice-Gover­nor

YANG GUANG / XIN­HUA

Two pas­sen­gers ex­pe­ri­ence the Bell 407 GXPs heli­copter and take a selfie.

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