Bell Helicopter is pitching its 407GX to replace the US Navy's TH-57 training helicopter. (Bell Helicopter)
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NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — Bell Helicopter is pitching its single-engine 407GX for the US Navy training helicopter replacement program, a company official said.
Bell gave the Navy information about different helicopters it believes could meet the service’s training requirements, including the 407GX and smaller 505 model.
“Based on what the Navy needs and what they define their requirements as, we have aircraft that can fit that,” said Scott Clifton, manager of Bell’s military business development.
The Navy has asked companies to provide thoughts on how it should replace its fleet of more than 100 Bell TH-57 trainers. The aircraft is a version of the Bell 206 Jet Ranger.
“We have a relationship with the Navy that’s been going on for 40 years at this point, from the UH-1 [Huey] to now the 206,” Clifton said.
If selected for the Navy trainer, the company would add another display screen in the cockpit of the 407GX for the instruction pilot, he said. Other upgrades would include the installation of a stronger windscreen that is more resistant to bird strikes, and lower skid gear.
A commercial version of the 407 costs about $3.5 million, Clifton said.
Since the 407 is a newermodel of the 206 — currently used by the Navy — it has similar engineering and support equipment, which would make the transition to a new aircraft easier, Clifton said.
Beyond the helicopter itself, Bell also has pitched the desktop computer and full-motion simulators it uses at its commercial training academy in Fort Worth, Texas.
Minor changes to how the Navy conducts its mix of live-flight and simulator training could save the service money, Clifton said.
The company also pitched the Navy a leasing option for the training helicopters.
Another helicopter maker, AgustaWestland, is pitching its AW119 for the Navy T-57 replacement program.■