Bell Helicopter is looking at emerging government and para-public requirements as it aims to expand the customer base for the Bell 429 in India.

The first Indian customer, charter operator Span Air, took delivery Feb. 8 of its first Bell 429, configured in a VIP arrangement. Most Bell 429 sales in the country are made in the corporate market right now, but there are hopes that emergency medical services, for instance, will open up soon, says the company’s Asia-Pacific director, Sameer Rehman.

Rehman expects a tour in India leading up to the Aero India 2011 show and the event in Bengaluru to trigger additional deals. “Our backlog is growing as a result of the show,” he says, adding that “we are expecting steady growth” in India.

Overall, the Asia-Pacific region represents about 30% of the Bell 429 backlog.

Rehman says the new light-twin platform could also have appeal to government and military operators. Although requests for proposals have not yet been issued, Bell is keeping an eye on requirements for the Indian coast guard and navy for ship-based applications.

There will be a further push to secure an armed rotorcraft program in India, Rehman also notes, and the company is looking to showcase its capabilities in the country to that end. Eurocopter is monitoring that requirement, as well.