Rotorcraft Update: New Bell president maps the future

 - August 5, 2008, 6:55 AM

While praising the efforts of his predecessor, Bell Helicopter’s freshly appointed CEO has been offering his own vision of the future for the beleaguered rotorcraft giant. What emerges is a daring strategy that essentially bets the company on the success of the embattled V-22 Osprey military tiltrotor and, later, the BA609 civil tiltrotor programs. Evidence of this new emphasis surfaced right after June’s Paris Air Show, when new CEO Mike Redenbaugh announced a threefold path for the company to follow into the future. First, Redenbaugh praised previous CEO John Murphey’s role in “stabilizing” the company and successfully reorganizing the Osprey program along the guidelines of Six Sigma strategies aimed at raising manufacturing efficiencies while cutting costs. Redenbaugh pledged more emphasis on civil tiltrotor development in the wake of June’s successful certification of the jointly developed Bell/Agusta AB139 helicopter. While not turning his back completely on a Murphey-proposed plan calling for development of a modular core helicopter design to which components could be added as the mission demanded, Redenbaugh would like to see that machine preceded by a steady program of improvements to the company’s present civil product line, all of which are manufactured in Canada at Bell’s Mirabel, Ontario plant.