Coping with a slowdown in both commercial and military sales, Bell Helicopter has laid off 45 more nonunion employees, bringing to 800 the number of jobs it has eliminated in its Dallas/Fort Worth and Mirabel, Quebec plants since September. While the layoffs have been taken from nearly every division of the company, by far the largest percentage has come from manufacturing operations.
In an independent assessment of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor program conducted by NASA at the request of the U.S. Navy, a blue-ribbon panel has given the often troubled program a clean bill of health, at least from the aerodynamic point of view. Chaired by Dr.
While its bigger cousin in the Marines stays grounded, work on the civil tiltrotor is proceeding in the same Bell Helicopter hangars from which the first prototype V-22 Ospreys rolled out some 13 years ago in Arlington, Texas.
As spring flooded north along America’s Atlantic seaboard, news from the tiltrotor front began to improve somewhat. The mandated modification work on the U.S. Marines’ Osprey fleet was proceeding, closing in on a resumption of flight tests expected to happen this month. Critics of the embattled Bell Boeing program seem to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.
While Bell Helicopter and program partner Agusta Aerospace are pondering their next moves in the ongoing saga of tiltrotor development (see page 1), both parties were recently informed by the U.S military that they must find space to store 19 military
Three of the eight U.S. Marine Corps officers charged with wrongdoing in the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor scandal have been found liable to some of the administrative charges. The other five officers and men were cleared of charges that they participated in a scheme to falsify maintenance records. (It should be stressed that being found in violation of a charge is not, under the code of military justice, the equivalent of criminal conviction.)
Stating that “the V-22 must lead tiltrotor technology into the marketplace,” Bell Helicopter has opted to shelve its BA609 civil tiltrotor following first flight of a prototype later this year, indefinitely delaying introduction of the world’s first production-oriented civil tiltrotor until problems with the U.S. Marines’ V-22 Osprey tiltrotor transport can be ironed out.
Bell Helicopter Textron last month announced plans to lay off 270 workers at its Fort Worth-area plants. The job cuts will affect both union-represented hourly workers and salaried employees. A spokesman for the rotorcraft builder said further cutbacks were possible as the company reevaluated its position in the slumping world helicopter market and as the effects of investigations and slowdowns in the U.S.
The U.S. Coast Guard has selected Bell’s Eagle Eye unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as its choice to fill the UAV role in the USCG’s overall hardware-improvement program, a plan aimed to make the agency more effective further from shore and, hence, known under the program title “Deepwater.” Bell’s HV-911 Eagle Eye is a full-function tiltrotor, much like its V-22 and XV-15 cousins.
A pair of Bell Boeing MV-22 tiltrotor transports have joined the remedial developmental flight-test program that’s hoped to get the cause of tiltrotor operations back on track following a series of fatal accidents and scandalous revelations concerning performance coverups by high-ranking Marine officers. The two new aircraft are part of a gradual ramp-up to a total of seven Ospreys serving the flight-test program now under way at the U.S.