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.
Aviation International News » October 2003
At a time when the progress of big-ticket military helicopter programs is measured in decades, it is worth noting that the first Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche production line opened September 17 at Sikorsky’s Bridgeport, Conn. plant.
A marginally sufficient 55 percent of the 540-strong force of eligible employees at aeromed operator Air Methods recently voted to approve representation by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). Under the Railway Labor Act, a simple majority is all that’s required for a union to win such a decision.
Bell Helicopter must face trial over the deaths of three paramedics killed in a 1998 helicopter crash in Los Angeles, after the California Supreme Court declined to hear the company’s appeal. The widows of the paramedics sued Bell, claiming that the crash was caused by a defective tail-rotor yoke that broke as the helicopter was trying to transport an injured child to a hospital. The child also died.
According to a high-ranking official with the Hafei Aviation Industry Co., of Harbin, China, that nation expects to manufacture Eurocopter EC 120 helicopters in the near future. “It has been approved in principle to let us build a new assembly line to manufacture the EC 120 helicopter outside France,” said Qu Jingwen, general manager of Hafei Aviation Industry.
Displaying the sort of brand loyalty most manufacturers only wish for, the New York City Police Department aviation unit has taken delivery of yet another Bell helicopter, a brand-new 412EP. This addition brings the NYPD’s fleet total to six helicopters, all of them Bell products.
As the air transport industry slowly recovers from a sagging global economy and persistent geopolitical unrest, regional airlines have recast themselves as agents
for change in a business often criticized for its inflexibility and lack of fiscal discipline.
One of Aer Arann’s busiest areas must be its personnel department: “We have experienced huge growth in the past two years, particularly in flight crew and operations. Given our current rate of growth, flight crew [numbers] have grown above 30 percent per year and will continue at 15 to 20 percent,” according to head of operations John Halpin.
Aer Arann performs its own line maintenance, with base checks contracted to TAT at Dinard in northern France, said COO Peter McKenna. Components go to sister company Aer Arann Islands in Connemara. The airline employs 25 maintenance staff, and generally adds two or three people with each additional aircraft.
In an industry where airlines have all too often been run by aviators instead of businessmen, Aer Arann chief executive Padraig O’Ceidigh (pronounced ‘O’Kaygee’) has brought a cautious–if not typically Irish–approach to the airline. “The most important word in business is ‘no’,” he asserts.