Interview with: Jakub Hoda – Managing Director, Bell Europe and Russia

Jakub Hoda is Managing Director of Bell helicopter based in Prague in charge of Europe and Russia. His extensive knowledge gained through his direct experiences in a wide variety of sales transactions enables him to provide outstanding results in his position. Jakub has considerable experience of the aviation industry gained through working for Aero Vodochody, Honeywell and recently for Bell Helicopters.


What is Bell’s view of the central European market?

We see the Central European market as one with great potential growth in the near future. It is driven by both the government segment – where the old Russian helicopters will be replaced by western ones, as well as the corporate segment –where many businesses are discovering the benefits and valuesof fast and flexible transport.

What helicopters are proving to be the most popular in the region?

Usually the greatest interest is in single engine long light helicopters (such as our newly enhanced 407GXP model) for private use or light twin helicopters (such as the Bell 429), which is ideal for various uses from corporate and VIP travel to emergency medical services.

What changes do you see for the future?

We have started to see a great focus on operational ownership costs versus acquisition costs. Also, in operational terms, leasing and partial or fractional ownership is becoming more and more popular in the helicopter industry.

How much business does Bell Helicopters have in central Europe?

CEE is one of the regions where we are increasing our market share, driven mostly by our success in Poland (4 new helicopters for private use delivered) and the Czech Republic and Slovakia where we are very strong in the parapublic / emergency medical service segments and are also increasing our corporate clients.

What changes would you like to see when doing business in central Europe?

Generally we are glad there is much more transparency in government business in the CEE than in the past – and we hope this trend will continue. On the private market, we’d like to see more innovation from    operators to attract new clients to helicopter transport, as well as generally a more customer friendly infrastructure for helicopter operation.

What is your prediction of the future growth in the region (Czech Republic and Slovakia)?

I believe we will see double digit growth in new orders in the government segment driven by fleet replacement and single digit growth in the near future in the private / corporate segment.

What are the most successful Bell Helicopters‘ markets in Europe?

According to units sold and delivered, this would be the UK, Turkey, it used to be Russia until recently but according to market share growth it is Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey.

We understand that recently, up to 2014, Bell Helicopters has seen a large increase in the number of helicopters sold. What do you attribute this increase to?

Our strategy of making key investments in our products, people and facilities has mainly driven our strong results in Europe. We have renewed investments in this important region creating a growing presence. We have invested in our European Customization & Delivery Centre in Prague acquired in 2010.

We’re making great progress in our cooperation with TRU and Textron Aviation to open the first Bell Helicopter training centre in Valencia, Spain in 2016 – extending our capabilities in Europe and expanding our global training capabilities to better serve our customers.

One of your most popular helicopters is the Bell 429 How many are based in the CEE region?

Currently we have 7 in the CEE (Czech, Poland, Slovakia (3), Romania and Latvia) and a couple more in the Ukraine. But I expect that up to 20 new B429s will be delivered to the CEE over the next 3 years.

What are the key features of Bell 429 that make it so successful?

The Bell 429 is proving to be one of the best choices for looks, feel and technology for many segments on the market today, especially VIPs. The B429 helicopter delivers exceptional speed, range, hover performance and enhanced safety margins. It has more cabin space than any other light twin helicopter, with flat flooring and seating for seven passengers and one flight crew. When time is of the essence, the Bell 429’s 60 inch wide side doors and optional rear clamshell doors provide quick and easy access.

A few weeks ago you introduced the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X in Prague. How many have been ordered so far? What are your sales expectations?

The Bell 505 is a really gamechanging aircraft in redefining the short light single (SLS) class, putting safety, performance and affordability at the forefront. The Bell 505 is the first helicopter in its class to feature a fully integrated glass flight deck by using the Garmin G1000H Integrated Avionics Suite. Pilot workload and safety is further reduced by the Turbomeca  Arrius 2R engine with dual channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). We have already signed over 300 global Letters of Intent with deposits and over 60 of them are from Europe, approximately 7 from the CEE market. We are looking forward to delivering the first aircraft to our customers by the end of 2016.

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