Launch Customer Backs Away From Bell 429
EMS provider Air Methods (Booth No. 1929) will not be taking deliveries of any more new Bell 429s beyond the single unit it received in October, according to CEO Aaron Todd. Air Methods was the 429’s launch customer and since 2004 it had held letters of intent for up to 15. Another helicopter EMS company acquired by Air Methods in 2007, CJ Systems, had letters for another 10. Todd told AIN that those letters would not be converted to firm orders.
Todd cited the need to change Air Methods’s fleet mix to more single-engine helicopters and ongoing problems with the 429, including weight, as factors in the company’s decision. “It [the 429] came in heavier than planned and that has limited its usefulness in certain operating environments,” he said. Todd said the company instead had ordered 12 new Eurocopters, six AS350B3s and six EC130s.
Bell received FAA and Transport Canada certification for the Bell 429 last July 1. At that time Bell claimed to hold more than 300 customer purchase letters of intent for the helicopter and was in the process of converting them to firm orders. The base price of the 429 is $4.865 million (2007$).