The Asia Pacific region, with China as the leading force, has made 2017 an "incredible year" for Bell Helicopter, according to company executives.
Bell has seen a 75 percent year-on-year increase of orders worldwide, despite the "steep down cycle of the industry in the past few years," said Patrick Moulay, executive vice president with Bell Helicopter in global sales and marketing.
"We take more orders from the Asia Pacific region, more than the combination of other markets. In particular, Bell achieved a great success in the Chinese market with 210 orders in 2017," said Moulay in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
RIGHT TIMING TO CHINA
"The timing is now, now, now. The heli-industry has suffered a lot in the past few years, but we've seen the market is recovering. Of course, with the strong driving force from China and other countries in the region," Moulay said.
Bell is a global leader in commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft.
Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, Bell Helicopter has delivered more than 35,000 aircraft to customers around the world over its 80-year history.
In mid-2017, Bell Helicopter and the Shaanxi Helicopter signed a purchase agreement for 100 Bell 407GXP single-engine helicopters.
The helicopters will be finalized in Bell's U.S. plant, shipped to China and reassembled. Some of them will be configured for customer needs in Emergency Medical Service, emergency rescue, fire fighting and law enforcement.
In 2017, it also received a total of 110 orders from the Beijing-based Reignwood Group for Bell505 single-engine helicopters, including 60 confirmed orders and 50 newly increased orders.
These "big orders" from the Chinese market jointly contributed to Bell's great success in China and worldwide in 2017.
"In fact, the heli-fleet in China is still quite small compared with the vast country's surging demand, but its potential is magnificent," Moulay said.
COMMITMENT TO CHINA CUSTOMERS
"Amid the surging market, we will not only sell our products, but also play a role in cultivating the surging market jointly with Chinese partners," said Jose Jacinto Monge, managing director with Bell Helicopter China.
"China has a need to lift its public welfare, and helicopters are indispensable in emergency medical and natural disaster rescue, especially in its mountainous and disaster-prone southwestern regions," he said.
China is set to boost the development of its civil aviation industry to create a market that is expected to be worth more than a trillion yuan (158.4 billion U.S. dollars) by 2020.
It will build new civil airports, bringing the total to more than 500 by 2020, and support the further opening of its low-altitude airspace, which is a major operation envelope for helicopters.
Global major helicopter manufacturers and the country's domestic developers are also gearing up for the burgeoning market by introducing new models and setting up new production facilities.
"We have a commitment to our Chinese partners and customers to develop their capabilities in reassembly and maintenance, as well as pilot and technician training," said Monge. "Bell will support them in daily maintenance, heavy maintenance and pilot training."
He said Bell Helicopter was resolved to support the healthy development of the heli-market in China.
"We will join hands with the government authorities and industry insiders to make sure of the safe operation of customers and their passengers," Monge said. "China is our top market worldwide. It deserves our attention and focus."