Last week during my normal time off from PHI I was asked to come in early and do some overtime work over. I was flown from Lafayette to Bristol Tennessee to pick brand new Bell 407.
The civilian Bell factory is located in Mirabel Canada but interestingly enough many customers pick up their new helicopters in Tennessee. In Bristol is the completion center, where Bell will customize the customer’s helicopters before they take delivery. The customer gets the benefit of having Bell fly their helicopter down from Canada for 10 hours to make sure it is in good shape and to avoid US Customs hassles before they complete them.
As you can see in the pictures they helicopters come down "bare bones". PHI is a special company in that we don’t have Bell complete our new 407s. PHI has such a great maintenance facility and employees that we get the helicopter sans paint, most avionics, floats, and other things and complete them ourselves. It is a testament to the quality job and company that PHI is that we are able to take a "bare bones" helicopter and turn it into a Gulf of Mexico (GOM) flying machine, seen below.