Bell Helicopter to base SLS production in Louisiana
Bell Helicopter will open a new helicopter assembly facility at Lafayette Regional Airport in Louisiana where production of its Short Light Single (SLS) aircraft will be based. The company will invest $11.4 million in equipment and tooling for the facility, and expects to directly create around 115 jobs for the local economy.
Bell Helicopter announced plans to re-enter the SLS market at the 2013 Paris Air Show in June. The aircraft, with a load capacity of 1,500 pounds, a speed of 144 mph, and a cruising range of more than 400 miles, will be aimed at export markets within the utility, law enforcement, and civilian flight training segments.
The State of Louisiana will fund the construction of a new 82,300-square-foot, $26.3 million hangar facility at Lafayette Regional Airport that will be leased to Bell Helicopter. Construction will begin in the first half of 2014, with assembly operations expected to start by 2016 following certification of the facility and the aircraft.
John Garrison, CEO, Bell Helicopter, said: ‘Bell Helicopter defined the short light single market nearly 50 years ago with the JetRanger, and our customers are again asking for a high-performance, high-value Bell product in this category. We have taken this challenge seriously and are focused on delivering an aircraft that is not only competitively priced, but offers features and capabilities customers have come to expect from Bell Helicopter.
‘We considered several sites for this new facility, and Louisiana’s proposal demonstrated the state’s commitment to economic development. The state’s established aerospace industry and exceptional workforce training programmes were also key factors in our decision to make Louisiana a partner in expanding our manufacturing footprint.’
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