HAI Convention News

Bell’s new CEO to put focus on communication

 - March 15, 2007, 9:32 AM

Bell Helicopter CEO Richard Millman yesterday emerged from the company’s booth (No. 1333) long enough to explain to HAI Convention News what he’s been up to since taking the helm of the company in January.

“Bell is absolutely a wonderful opportunity for me,” said Millman, who formerly served as president of Textron Systems Corp., a division of Bell’s parent company Textron. He said he intentionally did not make an appearance at Bell’s Wednesday
press briefing here in Orlando because he was in Palm Beach, Fla., attending a board meeting with other Textron executives–and because he felt he simply is not yet prepared to face the media en masse.

“From my own perspective, I’m not ready,” he said. “I have not developed an intuition for this business yet. You have to give me a few weeks.”

Millman described himself as “cautious,” but underscored the fact that in his more than 20 years with Textron and its associated businesses, he has developed relationships with key executives at Bell and has a good general understanding of the business and how it should be run. Near the conclusion of the interview for this story, Millman paused to greet former Bell CEO Jack Horner, who stopped by the booth to say hello.

A former member of the U.S. rowing team who still competes in the sport, Millman said he is not afraid of a challenge and knows that he has many ahead of him at Bell. He will continue to have oversight responsibility for Textron Systems Corp., which includes Textron Defense Systems, Textron Marine & Land, HR Textron, Lycoming Engines and Overwatch Systems.

Technical problems related to the U.S. Army’s armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH) program have slowed Bell’s progress on the project, which is nine months behind schedule. Textron CEO Lewis Campbell has told Wall Street analysts that Bell stands to lose $2 million to $4 million per helicopter on the first 48 and has been asking to renegotiate the original contract’s terms.

Bell’s problems with the ARH program and continuing delays with other helicopters led Campbell to fire CEO Mike Redenbaugh on January 18 and replace him with Millman. The company announced on Thursday the cancellation of the 417 program, a civil helicopter based on the ARH design.