If Textron Aviation executives seem a bit distracted at this year’s LABACE show, they have a pretty good excuse—several, in fact. The company’s aviation businesses have multiple high-profile projects in progress, including a soon-to-be certified super-midsize business jet, a new single-engine turboprop, and a just-delivered light single helicopter.
“We continue to feel very good about the investments that we’re making in the business to continue to grow the addressable markets for our products,” Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said at an investor conference earlier this year.
Several of those investments have moved into the spotlight in recent months.
Textron’s Bell Helicopter earned FAA certification for its 505 Jet Ranger X on June 8, adding to initial certification from Transport Canada late last year and from Australian regulators in early March. European certification was imminent at press time. Deliveries of the helicopters, which have attracted about 400 letters of intent (LOIs), began in March. “Order conversion remains strong,” Donnelly said in April during the company’s first-quarter earnings presentation.
The company in early July also resumed flight testing on the Bell 525. The first commercial fly-by-wire helicopter, the 525 includes the Garmin G5000H—the first fully integrated touchscreen avionics suite designed for helicopters. The program, which paused flight tests for a year following an accident, is on track to earn certification in 2018, with first deliveries planned for 2019.
Bell has more than 1,300 helicopters in Latin America, including nearly 300 supporting the military. The company has steadily continued to expand its market position, securing a number of key customer wins recently in Latin America. Among them: 15 Bell 407GXPs to the Mexican Air Force. Its market presence, expanded with a sales office in Mexico City in 2015, includes two customer service facilities, six more manufacturing and service facilites under…