Agusta officials have revealed they are currently negotiating with Bell to increase the share the Italian manufacturer holds in the BA609 tiltrotor program. Currently at 25 percent for Agusta and 75 percent for Bell, the workshare may eventually become “close to 50/50,” Agusta CEO Amedeo Caporaletti said.
Construction started last month on Cessna’s new Citation Service Center at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The 447,259-sq-ft facility, being built on 124 acres, is scheduled to be finished in the fourth quarter of next year. In anticipation of increased traffic, a new taxiway was completed in March. The support facility will operate 24/7 and Cessna expects to service 75 to 80 Citations a day.
Before suffering a fatal crash April 22, the joint Bell/Agusta AB139 helicopter was enjoying a notably trouble-free development program that was at times well ahead of its original development schedule, and being warmly received by its target markets, both rarities in commercial aviation today and nearly miracles in the helicopter business.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Textron, accusing the Providence, R.I. corporation of misrepresenting to investors information about the V-22 Osprey program. The complaint alleges that Textron violated securities law by issuing a series of “material misrepresentations,” resulting in the inflation of Textron’s stock price.
Proving perhaps that nothing sweeps cleaner than a new broom, Bell Helicopter CEO Mike Redenbaugh, in the job since late May, has announced plans to move Bell’s military helicopter manufacturing out of its historic Fort Worth, Texas facility and into a new site in Amarillo, Texas. The Amarillo site will also handle final assembly for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, according to a recent message from Redenbaugh.
Charles Johnson, 60, who was named president of Cessna in March, remains on an “indefinite leave” of absence since late August due to undisclosed ongoing medical problems, according to a spokesman for the Wichita aircraft maker. Without elaborating on his illness, the spokesman said that doctors have ruled out cancer and heart-related problems. Cessna senior v-p of engineering Jack Pelton has assumed Johnson’s duties until he returns.
Cessna’s computerized maintenance-service program, Cescom, is now online, allowing Citation customers to manage their maintenance records in real time. Cescom subscribers can convert to the online system at no additional charge at www.support.cessna.com.
AgustaWestland appointed former Bell CEO John Murphey to run Agusta-WestlandBell (AWB), the joint-venture company formed to manage the US-101 helicopter program. The US-101 and Sikorsky S-92 are the two finalists in the competition to replace the current fleet of Marine One helicopters that carry the President.
Bowing to some inevitable delays after September 11, Bell/Agusta Aerospace reports assembly of the first two BA609 tiltrotors is nearing completion, with engine runups slated to begin this month. First flight is still scheduled to take place at Bell’s Arlington, Texas flight research center before the end of the year, although industry observers have expressed skepticism that this deadline can be met.
Citing a need to realign its executive lineup in the face of an economy that was already softening before it was rocked by the events of September 11, Textron has dismissed Bell Helicopter chairman and CEO Terry Stinson, filling his former position with John Murphey, Bell president and COO.