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.”
Bell Helicopter’s new CEO, John Garrison, is expecting 2010 to be a flat year in terms of civil deliveries, but he said he sees significant growth on the military side, thanks to a production ramp-up for the V-22 tiltrotor and the H-1. Military revenues should jump by 15 percent, he added. Bell is here on Stand Q01 and on the static display with the new Bell 429 light twin, which is touring Asia.
The future of the VH-71 presidential helicopter program neared the wire last month as Congress worked to pass a final 2010 defense appropriations bill that the President would sign before the start of the fiscal year on October 1. If the bill is not signed into law by then, Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the Department of Defense. As AIN went to press, the bill had not yet become law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Forecast International is predicting an $88.1 billion market for medium/heavy (15,000 pounds and up) military rotorcraft between now and 2018. Forecast says competition in the market is between all-new designs from non-U.S. firms versus derivative models based on older designs from U.S. manufacturers.