First commercially qualified armed helicopter now sold in SA

24th February 2012 By: Yolandi Booyens

Independent representative for Bell Helicopter in 13 Southern African countries National Airways Corporation (NAC) is now selling the heli- copter manufacturer’s first commercially qualified armed helicopter, the Bell 407AH, configured to perform a range of missions.

The model features a cruise speed of 246 km/h, a never- exceed speed of 259 km/h, a range of 611 km, a maximum endurance of 3.8 hours and seven-seater capacity.

The maximum internal gross weight of the Bell 407AH is 1 174 kg and the external weight is 2 722 kg.

Included in the model’s weapon system are the Dillon 7.62 mm M134T minigun and the M260 2.75 seven-shot rocket-launching system.

Bell’s 407 has been in the market since 1996 and this model features a Rolls-Royce 250-C47B turbine full-autho- rity digital engine control system, which ensures exceptional performance. Its cabin seats up to five passengers and offers a smooth ride in all weather conditions.

Bell Helicopter also recently launched the Bell 407GX, which featured a Garmin G1000H flight deck. This model offered greater situational awareness, safety and enhanced performance.

An armed version of the Bell 407 was created last year, which culminated in the Bell 407AH. “This helicopter was designed as a cost-effective light armed helicopter,” NAC executive director for helicopter sales Gary Phillips reports. “It is perfect for militaries that need the featured capabilities at a more affordable price.”

The Bell 407AH was launched at last year’s Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida, and was also exhibited at the Paris air show in June, as well as the Dubai air show in November last year.

Bell Helicopter received 41 signed contracts at the Heli-Expo last year. Eleven new 407GX’s were included in the order.

“NAC is hopeful that it will get a Bell 407AH to South Africa to feature the model at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012 airshow at the Waterkloof air force base,” Phillips reveals.

The Bell 407AH is available for sale outside the US and was built, developed and funded by Bell Helicopter. “Private persons would be able to buy this helicopter if they have the necessary approvals from the US and their own countries,” he says.

Meanwhile, in addition to the selling and chartering of aircraft, NAC also offers pilot training.

The 43 Air School is NAC’s fixed-wing and helicopter flying training organisation that caters for the private, general commercial, airline and military sectors. The school’s air training organisation (ATO) is the first South African ATO to achieve South African Civil Aviation Authority approval for integrated Airline Transport Pilot aeroplane and helicopter courses.

NAC recently opened a new helicopter facility at Grand Central Airport, where it offers charter, contract and helicopter flight training, supporting the flight training that is pro- vided at NAC Rand Airport.

NAC offers a range of aviation services and products to the fixed-wing and helicopter markets, including aircraft sales, aircraft maintenance, parts, value-added products, charter, international operations and pilot training.

Maintenance services are also offered by NAC. It is a Federal Aviation Admini- stration-approved repair station (N34Y1340) and also has the approval of the Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe aviation authorities.