Air Transportation: April 24, 2004


Now that Pakistan has been declared a full fledged ally of the United States, they are eligible to buy military equipment from American manufacturers. One thing Pakistan needs is transport helicopters, to get around the rugged terrain that makes up so much of the country. Currently, Pakistan has a large collection of (mostly elderly) American, Russian and European helicopters. But they choose American civilian helicopters for their first purchase of new equipment, asking for 26 Bell 412, twin engine craft. The 412 is a further development of the 1960s era UH-1 (Huey). The UH-1 was designed in the 1950s, as one of the first helicopters to use a gas turbine (jet) engine to turn its rotor. The UH-1 was so successful that a civilian version (the Bell 212) was developed and this proved a big success. The Bell 412 is a further refinement of the 212. The Bell 412 has a max takeoff weight of 5.4 tons. It can carry up to 14 passengers, plus the pilot (it can be safely flown with one pilot). The Bell 412 has the best safety record of any two engine helicopter in service, and is also one of the cheapest two engine helicopters to operate. It has a max range of 740 kilometers and a max speed of 240 kilometers an hour. It can carry up to two tons of material in a sling underneath. The 412 can stay in the air for about three hours on one load of fuel. Each Bell 412 costs about $6 million (with spare parts, training and maintenance equipment.) To speed up acquisition of the helicopters, the Pakistanis are expected to do a leasing deal. 


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