Bell Helicopter Announces New Facilities and New Orders

Bell Helicopter, an American rotorcraft manufacturer, announced a brand new helicopter assembly plant recently, one which would be ultimately responsible for assembling the company’s new Short Light Single (SLS) helicopter line. The factory, located in Lafayette, would be the first modern-era aircraft assembly factory to be located in Louisiana. This new facility, at 82,300 square feet, has a price tag of $26.3 million, with an additional $11.4 million in capital investments to be made by Bell Helicopter. It will be funded by the State of Louisiana and owned by Lafayette Regional Airport while being leased by Bell Helicopter. Several hundred additional jobs as a result of the ongoing project are expected to be created. The company has made strides in other areas as well with the recent announcement of an additional 14 orders for the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helcopters.

Till date, Bell Helicopter has received more than 200 purchase agreements for the aircraft. The Bell 505, a five-seat single-engine helicopter, is particularly popular in the African market, where Bell is looking to expand. With the majority of the Bell 206 JetRangers operating in Africa over 20 years old, many operators will soon be looking for replacements, a market in which Bell is well established.

Bell Helicopter, which operates as a division of the international conglomerate Textron, is a major manufacturer of military and commercial rotorcraft and tiltrotor products. The company was formed in 1935 as Bell Aircraft Corporation with the focus of designing fighter aircraft such as the XFM-1 Airacuda and the P-39 Airacobra. In 1960, Textron acquired Bell Aerospace, which was composed of three divisions. Only one division, its helicopter division (which was renamed to Bell Helicopter Company after a few years), is the only division that still produces complete aircraft. The major success of the UH-1 Huey during the Vietnam War led to the exponential growth that made Bell Helicopter the largest division of Textron. Major names that fall under the Textron umbrella also include companies such as Cessna and Beechcraft.


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