Pentagon and Bell-Boeing officials have countered media reports that the V-22 Osprey has performed poorly in deployment. During a briefing at the recent Navy League Sea Air Space convention in Washington, D.C., they admitted to some serviceability problems, but insisted that the tiltrotor has met all its assigned operational tasks.
AgustaWestland’s Deliveries Up, Orders Down for Last Year
AgustaWestland parent company Finmeccanica on Friday disclosed its 2009 results, showing increased deliveries but slashed orders for the Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer. Revenues grew by 15 percent to €3.48 billion (about $4.7 billion) in 2009. This was influenced by robust deliveries of AW139 medium and AW101 heavy helicopters, as well as product support results, the company said. The pre-tax earning margin stagnated at 10.7 percent.
Bell Helicopter has announced senior staff changes and the integration of its XworX research and development center into its engineering department, at a time when questions persist about the company’s future role in the BA609 civil tiltrotor program and the launch customer for the 429 light twin helicopter seeks to back out of its purchase agreement.
Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison told a press conference here yesterday that he did not expect an uptick in the company’s civil helicopter sales until 2012 and called the company’s 2009 “quite a year in a very challenging environment.”
A bitter six-week strike at Bell Helicopter Textron’s transmission and rotor blade component plants in Fort Worth, Texas, ended after union members ratified a revised four-year contract offer yesterday morning. Nearly 2,500 members of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 218 struck the company on June 14 after rejecting an initial offer from Bell that increased wages, but also increased the share of employee-paid health care costs.
Bell Boeing has just received a new contract to add to its existing support contract for the V-22 Ospreys operated by the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force Special Operations Command. The initial Phase I $581 million, five-year integrated logistics support contract was awarded this January.
The projected certification date for Bell’s new 429 light twin has slipped from the first quarter to May. Originally slated for FAA certification in late 2007, the 429 has been dogged by repeated delays as the company juggles military and civil programs, including the $70 million-per-copy V-22 tiltrotor, which is now poised to become the single biggest piece of Bell’s business.
Citing a backlog of more than ?10 billion ($12.8 billion) and increases in both revenue and orders during the first nine months of 2008 compared to the same period the year before, AgustaWestland executives on Saturday night said they remain “reasonably and realistically optimistic” about the future of their company as well as that of the industry at large.