Bell Helicopter, July 14, 2014 - PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, announced its facility in Prague, Czech Republic, will become the company’s regional customization, delivery and aftermarket service center to address growing European customer demand.
In addition to upgrades to the facility, the company laid out its plans for future investments in Europe including expanded customization capabilities and a regional training solution.
The company also announced the legal name change of the facility from Aviation Services, a.s. to Bell Helicopter.
The announcements were made Friday, July 11, during a customer luncheon held at the facility attended by Norman Eisen, United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Otto Jelinek, Canada’s Ambassador to the Czech Republic and Karel Novotny, Vice Minister at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
"Our continued investment in the region reinforces our commitment to our European customers to provide an in-region facility that offers the industry-leading service and support we are known for worldwide,” said John Garrison, Bell Helicopter's president and CEO. “This is particularly gratifying, given our 50-year heritage in the region and our deep understanding of the unique needs of the European rotorcraft market."
These moves underscore the strength of the Bell Helicopter brand in Europe and the company’s commitment to expanding its capabilities to better serve European customers. Bell Helicopter’s strategic investment in Europe has driven exponential increase in the number Bell Helicopter commercial deliveries in recent years. As a result of that growth, the company recognized the need for full-service customization and delivery resources in Europe to address the maintenance and modernization needs of the existing Bell Helicopter fleet and to provide local completion and customizing capabilities for new Bell Helicopter aircraft deliveries.
"Our European customers tell us Bell Helicopter products provide the ideal combination of safety, performance, reliability and value, which a key reason we have experienced such tremendous growth in the region during the past several years," said Garrison. "Bell Helicopter is enthusiastic about future growth opportunities in Europe and we intend to have the people, products and facilities necessary to win in Europe."
In February 2010, Bell Helicopter announced the acquisition of Aviation Service a.s., a world-class provider of modifications, upgrades, avionics and special mission packages based in Prague. Shortly thereafter the company achieved European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 145 approval and Part 145 Maintenance Organization Approval certification from the Ukraine State Aviation Administration.
In 2013, EASA granted expanded and updated terms of that facility’s Design Organization Approval (DOA), allowing it to perform major changes on the primary structure and cabin interiors of all Bell Helicopter models.
"The capabilities of the Prague team continue to grow and every day we take on increasingly complex customizations," said Eric Cardinali, executive vice president, Customer Support and Services. "Bell Helicopter is planning additional investments – from facility and capital enhancements to advanced personnel training and certification – to ensure we can offer the most modern and robust services to meet the long-term needs of our customers."
The Bell Helicopter facility in Prague compliments the company's extensive support and service network located throughout Europe. For example, for more than 40 years Bell Helicopter has supported its customers in more than 50 countries in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa from its Amsterdam Supply Center. The company also owns Rotor Blades, Ltd., in Warminster, England, a blade repair center, and has 16 Bell Helicopter Authorized Customer Service Facilities (CSFs) located in Europe and Russia to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul on Bell Helicopter aircraft. The company is currently pursuing its EASA Authorized Training Organization (ATO) certification, and has an ATO in the region to provide initial pilot check rides for the Bell 429.