Manufacturing workers at Bell Helicopter near Fort Worth, Texas, went on strike Monday for the first time in more than two decades in part to protect the jobs of 44 janitors whose work the company wants to outsource. On the Web site for United Auto Workers Local 218, the union said its members would remain on strike until at least June 21.
Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, expects Transport Canada to issue the type certificate for the company’s twin-turbine Bell 429 light helicopter by the end of this month. Approval from U.S. and European authorities should follow just a few weeks after that.
Bell Helicopter has announced plans to reduce the environmental footprint of its products through the new Eco-Innovation initiative that will evaluate them throughout every stage of their lifecycle. The process will start with an assessment of the environmental impact of mining the raw materials used to manufacture the aircraft right through to the end of their service life.
Despite plummeting revenues and profits at parent company Textron, Bell Helicopter posted significantly improved first-quarter results compared with the same period last year. Revenue increased from $574 million to $742 million and pre-tax profits soared from $16 million to $69 million.
Bell Helicopter anticipates receiving Transport Canada type certification for the 429 twin-turbine light helicopter by the end of June, followed swiftly by FAA validation and, a few weeks farther out, EASA approval. Company officials told AIN that all component testing and flight testing is complete, with just software approval remaining for Canadian certification.
Parts counterfeiting presents a serious concern for manufacturers, and a California company has designed a technique to protect OEMs and operators. “About two percent of the 26 million parts installed on aircraft worldwide
are counterfeit; that’s roughly half a million parts, ranging from hardware to advanced electronics equipment,” Ben Jun, vice president of technology for Crypto- graphy Research, told AIN.
With “revenues…down significantly in the last year,” Cessna chairman, CEO and president Jack Pelton announced on April 29 that, “To ensure our focus is on our strong products in existing markets, we are suspending our development of the Citation Columbus.” He also revealed a decision to reduce production rates for this year and next in response to “a continued decline in global demand for our aircraft.”
Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter parent Textron yesterday reported that first-quarter revenues dropped year-over-year by 24 percent to $2.5 billion, while after-tax profits fell steeply to $86 million from $231 million in the same period last year. At Cessna year-over-year revenues decreased $477 million to $769 million in the quarter, mainly due to the delivery of 69 Citations versus 95 in the first quarter of last year.
The helicopter industry isn’t immune to the terrible trouble affecting the global economy, but if Heli-Expo’09 is any indication, the greater diversity among operators of the world’s helicopter fleets helped deliver record high attendance and exhibitor activity.
Textron has plans to boost its liquidity by at least $1 billion in the first half of this year and, if successful, the company “won’t have to think about selling any of our core assets,” according to chairman and CEO Lewis Campbell. The Providence, R.I.-based company has already divested itself of a lesser, unidentified asset and is in the process of exiting its finance business.