Bell to assemble 407GXi for US Navy helicopter trainer programme

Hemanth Kumar and Talal Husseini 24 April 2019 (Last Updated April 24th, 2019 10:26)

Bell Helicopter has announced plans to conduct the final assembly of the Bell 407GXi aircraft at the Ozark facility in Alabama, if it is selected for the US Navy Advanced Helicopter Trainer programme.

Bell to assemble 407GXi for US Navy helicopter trainer programme
The Bell 407GXi features the new Rolls-Royce M250-C47E/4 dual channel FADEC turbine engine. Credit: Textron Inc.

Bell Helicopter has announced plans to conduct the final assembly of the Bell 407GXi aircraft at the Ozark facility in Alabama, if it is selected for the US Navy Advanced Helicopter Trainer programme.

Earlier this month, the company submitted its proposal to the US Navy to offer the 407GXi helicopter.

Bell Helicopter president and CEO Mitch Snyder said: “Bell is proud to be the only US-based manufacturer to participate in the US Navy Advanced Helicopter Trainer competition.

“Our Ozark team has proven their capabilities delivering Bell 407s to the navy through the Fire Scout programme. We look forward to providing a safe, technologically advanced aircraft for the next-generation of naval aviators.”

The US Navy seeks to procure 130 aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopters, which were introduced in the 1970s.

The service issued a request for proposals (RFP) in January this year for the acquisition of new TH-XX helicopter training aircraft.

“Our Ozark team has proven their capabilities delivering Bell 407s to the navy through the Fire Scout programme.”

A contract award for the helicopter trainer replacement programme is expected in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2020.

Aside from Bell, Airbus and Leonardo are believed to have bid.

Airbus has proposed its H135 helicopter, while Leonardo is offering its TH-119 IFR training helicopter.

The Bell 407GXi helicopter comprises a Garmin G1000H NXi Integrated Flight Deck and is outfitted with the new Rolls-Royce M250-C47E/4 dual channel FADEC turbine engine.

The G1000H NXi suite is designed to provide enhanced situational awareness and reduce pilot workload.

It features a helicopter terrain awareness warning system (HTAWS) and WireAware wire-strike avoidance technology to improve safety. According to the company, the aircraft can cruise at 246km/h.

Should Bell win the contract, the workforce at the Ozark site could expand by 25% to a total of 100 employees, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Read more about the different types of helicopters here.