Bell Helicopter is on a mission, to diversify its business model. CEO John Garrison wants to increase the company’s share of revenues from the civil sector, now estimated at 40 percent of its overall 2012 results of $4.2 billion.
Hillsboro Aviation has come a long way since it opened in 1980 as a helicopter training school. Today, the Oregon-based company offers aviation services ranging from charter and maintenance to aircraft sales and FBO operations. Headquartered at Portland-Hillsboro Airport, the company, which has a staff of 225 employees, operates a satellite facility in Portland as well as two flight-training centers–one in Troutdale and another in Prineville, Ore., as well as a seasonal helicopter tour operation at Mount St.
AgustaWestland acquired the portion of the 609 program it did not already own from Bell Helicopter in 2011, effectively dissolving the joint venture known as the Bell Agusta Aircraft Co. The 609 program is headquartered at a new AgustaWestland facility in Arlington, Texas, across the field from its previous home at Bell’s XworX. The aircraft are to be certified initially by the FAA in the U.S. under Parts 25 and 29 and a new category called powered lift.
Bell Helicopter (Booth No. N5612) comes to Heli-Expo ’13 bolstered by additional shipments and certifications for the Bell 429 program, as well as two new deliveries for the Bell 407GX.
The super-medium Bell Helicopter “Relentless” Model 525, announced at Heli-Expo’12, is not just an ambitious new program, it is a catalyst for changing the culture of the company, said Larry Thimmesch, Bell’s vice president of commercial programs. “There are many new things on this program, not just in terms of product but also in terms of process and cultural change,” he said.
Bell Helicopter is preparing to start assembling the first prototype of the 525 Relentless super-medium twin later this year at its facility in Amarillo, Texas. Four more prototypes are expected to join the test program before certification in 2015. Bell and its suppliers have begun manufacturing parts for the helicopter, which was announced in February last year and is slated to fly for the first time next year.
Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter parent company Textron yesterday reported a $1 billion increase in revenues, to $12.237 billion, last year, but it was the performance at Bell that contributed most to this gain. Manufacturing profits also rose by more than $140 million, to $1.07 billion, again mostly due to the helicopter manufacturer.
Textron subsidiary Bell Helicopter announced today that it will invest more than $10 million to expand its completion and customer delivery facilities in Piney Flats, Tenn. The additions will include the purchase of a 150,000-sq-ft building adjacent to the site that will house customization and completions of light and medium aircraft as well as the site’s shipping and receiving operations. The project is expected to add approximately 125 new jobs at the location.
A senior AgustaWestland executive told AIN late last week that the company was giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland Tilt-Rotor Co., said the aircraft initially would be built partially in Italy and the U.S., but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly would be “driven by the customer base” and that “35 percent of that is predicted to be in the United States.”
Bell Helicopter has announced a substantial investment in its support of operations in China. The OEM has signed a memorandum of understanding to assist with the establishment of a maintenance training facility in Guangdong Province. The MOU with Guangzhou Civil Aviation College focuses on training for the Bell 206L and Bell 407 and includes access to training-course materials, electronic training systems and continued support throughout training.