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Bell Getting Out Of 206 Business?!


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The 407X or 417 program was scrapped a year or more ago.

 

The 407X/417 initially started out as a simple re-engine of a 407, but advanced well beyond that concept. All that the customers wanted was a 407 that could reach max Q power at altitude and tempetature, what they were going to get was a complete and very expensive rebuild, including an entirely new drive train, new tail boom, etc, etc.

 

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that Bell finally realized that the old "upper and lower tub" 206 type airframe has been stretched and overpowered to the structural limits.

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I like the idea of a modular line. Bell was talking about it awhile back, Eurocopter seems to have a partial program in place....it's a great way to streamline your product lines, be efficient and profitable, but it also has some downfalls.

for one, you get stuck with a generic looking helicopter all thru the models, and from what I've seen, Bells MAPL version really isn't a trend setter.

Second, you have an issue with production that ends in an AD or a SB...you can conceivably ground every single helicopter you produced...now that will definately take away any cost saving etc that you were striving for in the first place.

Good luck to Bell, they've had several failures of late that quite possibly show the sign of the times

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I know several people who work in Mirabel. This is simply a business decision. We pilots and engineers who work with the product tend to get emotional about the machines we work with/on. Removing older products drives demand for the newer products. By reducing the number of models offered, Bell will be able to shorten lead times for its flagship products. Order a 407 today and with the current production line (3 of 4 airframes on the line or more going to the ARH program), you ain't going to see it until 2011. Add to that the labour shortage in Mirabel, and you've got issues.

 

Eurocopter have the same problem keeping up with demand.

 

As far as Bell ever catching up with Eurocopter, they'll need to start designing products with better amenities for pax. whenever I fly a 206, I get all kinds of gripes like "why couldn't they send an Astar". Pax seating is horrible in just about every Bell helicopter ever made.

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Chopperman,

 

I worked as loadmaster for a company last summer that got a new 206L4 and was operating it in Northern Quebec. They're still being sold, but most are going south of the border.

 

As for the 407, there are talks of a 407B. Most of what I've heard concerns updated avionics: getting rid of the LCD dials and putting in a PFD screen.

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Sorry guys, but this is just a 'rehash' of almost the exact same events that were happening with the Bell 47 Series at the end of the 60's. It's all 'deja vu' and welcome to what my generation experienced. Also consider yourself now to be getting old in the business :lol: The only added difference this time 'round is the active presence and developed sophistication of the R/W IFR world. So other than that item, you're now re-living history........welcome aboard and enjoy.

 

Bell 206 technology is circa 1964 and if not for the Vietnam War and the US Army's need for a LOACH (Light Observation Attack Helicopter) it might never have seen the light of day or not until a later evolution. It even failed in that Army tender and lost to the Huges 500. It ended-up being a 'jack-of-all-trades' and master of none. Her cost brand new in '68 was $265,000. Her updated descendent from Mirabel at last estimate was $1.23M. To some, 1964 technology and design ain't worth that much anymore. The Astar wasn't even a glint in someone's eye back in '64-'68. Let the Astar Model exist for another 43 years and then the true measurement can be made between them. Until then, the Astar is plain old newer technology and one day she'll be pre-empted by newer technology also. In fact, it's probably already on a drawing board some place now.

 

The Bell Huey line is in exactly the same boat also. It's circa 1954 technology and design. It's been re-engined over and over, fuselage stretched, had the tail rotor moved from one side to the other, had the tail boom stretched also and had all manner of items attached to it from one end to the other and on both sides. If not for a USAF requirement in the beginning and the US military's needs in the Vietnam War later-on, it might not have come into existance either. It was an old design already when I flew it in 'Nam and my son could be flying it now in Iraq. Great gal, but even that noise she makes denotes her age. By what is termed 'modern' in the aviation world, even the 212 and 412 are 'ancient'. The fact of the matter is that Bell Helicopter might not even exist today if not for wars and military contracts. Ditto for the Astar's parent, Aerospatiale, who existed totally at one time ONLY because of French military contracts and wars the French were involved in. Remember that also when you look at the Bell 609 because we alll know who it was always destined and desgned for and without the help of their contract and design monies, Bell would have faltered in it's development a long time ago. Ditto for the Bell 210. Without the huge miltary contract she was 'dead in the water' and Bell knew it. Always remember this. We are where we are today in both F/W and R/W aviation because of WW2, Vietnam and some smaller wars since then. Until then, there's no huge, gargantuan profits to be made with us in the civilan world, so it's 'slow as she goes'.

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Smaller is not what people want...the 407 would be even better with another12-18 inches in the back...as cap has said what the military want is what you will get and they want a variant of the 407...they really dont care about room in the back....

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I will be at the bell party in houston on the 24 of feb....will chat with them in person...chow.I'm sure the cost of a short version would be no different than what you are paying now for the 407....so who would pay...had this chat with a lot of people years ago...as did bell....not enough interest.

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