By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

US helicopter manufacturer Bell Textron, Inc. expects to sustain a 5-6% growth in chopper sales in the Philippines over the next five years, as it sees a steady stream of orders from private and government clients.

Bell Managing Director for Asia Pacific David F. Sale told reporters Monday the company hopes the Philippines will remain one of its top three markets in the region, alongside Thailand and Indonesia.

“I think what the growth rates are for the country — between 5% and 6%. We will continue to see growth, I would say, to be about the same,” he said at the launch event of the Bell 505 aircraft in Pasay City yesterday.

“What will spike in that is your government purchases — when your militaries or your air force or your coast guards, when they make a purchase with the budget that’s coming out… those will be the spikes that we see,” he added.

“But from the commercial side of the house, I think we see a nice growth over the next five years… As long as the growth is taking place within the economy of the Philippines, the helicopter market will do the same.”

Bell is a United States-based manufacturer that produces commercial and military aircraft. Among its clients include the Philippine National Police, Philippine Air Force and several companies in the Philippines.

BELL Textron, Inc. launched the Bell 505 aircraft in Pasay City on Monday. — COMPANY HANDOUT

Mr. Sale said he expects the company’s new Bell 505 aircraft to drive the demand from corporate clients.

“Right now I think the 505 is going to be our bestseller,” he said, noting there are three 505s in the Philippines today owned by unnamed private entities, and three more are expected to arrive within the year ordered by the PhilJets Group.

“With the introduction of the 505, I see the market growing significantly in the Philippines. One, because you are growing as a country. Two, the price point of the aircraft allows easier access to it for people that before didn’t have access to it,” Mr. Sale added.

One unit of the five-seater, single-engine Bell 505 costs around $1.6-1.7 million, making it relatively cheaper than Bell’s next cheapest unit, the Bell 407, which costs around $3.3 million.

Mr. Sale said Bell sees a huge growth potential in the Philippines. There are currently 60-70 commercial Bell aircraft in the country today.

“From a corporate perspective, the Philippines is way ahead of all the other Asian countries from the standpoint of allowing the airspace to be free… I think you’re progressive enough on your airspace to allow that to happen,” he said.

“As the Philippines grows their aviation assets, we are growing right there with them,” he added.