Bell 206L4 LongRanger Termination Makes Sense

By Douglas Royce, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

Bell Helicopter plans to terminate production of the 206L4 LongRanger during the first half of 2017, according to a report by Flight International.

The seven-seat LongRanger remained in production long after production of its smaller sibling, the iconic five-seat Bell 206B, ended in 2010, but sales have been declining for years.

The LongRanger complements the more powerful seven-seat Model 407 in Bell’s product line. The cabin dimensions of the two models are nearly identical, but the Model 407 is a newer design that offers a higher payload and speed, albeit at a higher cost.  Operators are willing to pay a premium for higher performance, and the 407 has long outsold the older LongRanger.

In recent years, the primary market for the LongRanger has been existing fleet operators looking to replace aircraft or to expand their inventory of the type.  For example, Air Medical Group Holdings (AMGH) has continued to order LongRangers as part of its fleet upgrade program.  The company was an existing operator of a fleet of 100 LongRangers for its Missouri-based Air Evac Lifeteam subsidiary.  AMGH signed a contract for 20 more aircraft in January 2014, then ordered four more in March 2015.  It added another eight the following October.

Bell’s decision to terminate production as existing orders are filled makes sense.  Between the 407 and Bell’s new 505 entry-level single, the manufacturer has the single-engine turbine segment covered.

Forecast International’s Rotorcraft Forecast provides complete coverage of the market for both piston-powered and turbine-powered rotorcraft, ranging in scope from the two-seat Robinson R22 piston up to the giant Mil Mi-26 heavy-lift turbine helicopter and the Bell/Boeing V-22 tiltrotor aircraft. Included in the reports are production forecasts, a Forecast Rationale detailing the basis for the forecast, the rotorcraft’s price range and technical specifications, a program history, and recent developments.

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