In announcing the award to Rogerson Kratos of a contract to supply a cockpit display system, Bell have effectively released details on their Magellan project (see HeliHub.com report on this "secret program", which cited an upgraded 412 as one of three possibilities).
Bell's press release stated that Rogerson would be supplying "the cockpit display system for the Magellan 412 EP".
HeliHub.com is not particularly suprised that Magellan turned out this way. Bell seems to have had low budgets for research and development of civil helicopter types for many years now, and they have really turned themselves into another manufacturer led by US military funding, a route Sikorsky committed themselves to decades back. This does not mean lack of success, far from it in fact, but it is a gamble based on expected future military spending - which rings alarm bells as most governments around the world cut back significantly on budgets in this area.
Bell fans would likely hasten to point out the Bell 206L4, 407, 429 and 430 models as current civilian programs, as well as the 412 itself. There's no getting away from the fact that the 206L4 and 407 rely heavily on the designs which first saw the light in the LOH military in the 1960s and the resultant OH-58 and 206 JetRanger - the latter now out of production. The 429 is developed from the 427, and that in turn from the 206LT "TwinRanger", Bell's attempt at taking the 206 production line to a twin-engined offering through a 1993 licence agreement with Tridair who had developed their "Gemini ST" STC for converting existing LongRanger airframes. The 430 is a development of the 222/230, and between those three models, Bell have still not manufactured 400 airframes. And of course, 212s and 412s are developments of the Vietnam era UH-1. While we appreciate that newer models have significantly updated systems, Bell's civil sales in the last twenty years do not look so good if you make a direct comparison to Eurocopter's offerings. That's not criticism, just the way it is after committing to being military-market led.
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