Bell begins delivery of 100 407GXPs to China
The first of 100 Bell 407GXP helicopters ordered in June has been delivered to Shaanxi Helicopter (SHC).
The subsidiary of the state-owned enterprise Shaanxi Group signed the purchase agreement during a ceremony in Xi’an, China. Mr. Xiaoning Yuan, president of Shaanxi Group, Mitch Snyder, CEO of Bell Helicopters and a number of ambassadors were present at the signing.
The deal was an extension of a framework agreement that both parties entered into in 2016.
Upon signing the deal, Snyder said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement for the purchase by Shaanxi Helicopter of 100 Bell 407GXPs, one of the most in-demand helicopters in China. Bell Helicopter has been developing its support and presence in China for several years and this further establishes our commitment to the region.”
The GXP model of the 407 features improved avionics and flight controls over previous iterations. It has become a single engine light aircraft of choice for many customers since its launch in 2015.
This is the latest in a number of large helicopter orders by Chinese companies. Last year, Airbus netted a similar framework agreement for 100 H135s with a Chinese consortium.
The manufacturer has set up a final assembly line in Qingdao Province, China, to support the demand – the first industrial agreement sealed between a Western helicopter company and China, according to Airbus.
And Leonardo has signed a 30-helicopter deal with Dino-US Intercontinental Helicopter Investment. The aircraft are a mix of AW139s and AW169s, outfitted for emergency medical services.
While China doesn’t seem to be playing favourites, seeing how manufacturers will make themselves more appealing to the Chinese market will be interesting. Airbus seems to be a step ahead with its Chinese assembly line but will other operators follow suit?