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Bell Helicopter continues to flex its military muscle

May 23, 2012, Fort Worth, Tx. - Bell Helicopter makes aircraft that are the backbone of flight operations for the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force.


May 23, 2012
By Kxan.com

Topics

One of those aircraft, the V-22 Osprey, looks and flies like no
other. The tilt-rotor aircraft flies like a plane, but can take off,
land, and hover like a helicopter.

The unconventional Osprey is
used in military operations around the world. That journey beings at the
Advanced Composite Center on Bell’s sprawling plant one complex in Fort
Worth.

“A lot of these parts are just real big puzzles, if you
will, it’s really amazing,” said Brian Cypert, who manages day-to-day
operations at the center.

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More than 350 hourly workers at the
center use the latest tools with laser precision and focus to transform
fiberglass into rock-solid building blocks for the Osprey.

The Marine Corps and Air Force have beefed up orders for the Osprey to replace aging fleet aircraft.

“It’s
been really, really cool to see this place grow, bring on new
equipment, bring on new people and see it develop into a factory at
full-rate production,” said Cypert.

To keep up with intense
delivery deadlines the ACC work force has increased by 30 percent over
the last 18 months. The company has also partnered with a local
community college to help foster qualified home-grown talent.

“That
class is a blessing,” Cypert said, adding, “That has really allowed us
to have a pool of candidates to go hire from, without that I’m not sure
that we would have ever gotten to the point to where we needed to meet
V-22 [production] rate.”

Bell Helicopter also produces the AH-1Z
Super Cobra and UH-1Y Huey, light attack helicopters used by the Marine
Corps, and the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior used by the Army.

Senior vice president Robert Hastings said work orders have Bell working at full throttle.

“We
have about a $7.6 billion impact in Texas," Hastings said. "That’s
taking into account the money we make as bell helicopter and the money
we spend on employees, taxes, facilities and all of our supplies.”

That
translates into about 40,000 jobs across the state that are sustained
by Bell’s operations The company also makes civil and commercial
aircraft but defense contracts are a major part of the bottom line.

“The
military business is also a technology driver for us,” said Hastings
“The research and development that the government does to make sure that
our troops on the battlefield, have the best technologies, helps us
attract the best and brightest engineers to work here.”

Those
engineers and programmers take aviation design to the next level at
Bell’s 3-D Imaging Center. Motion Capture technology, best known for
being used in video games, helps create virtual cockpits to the exact
specifications of aircraft under development.

Programmer Brent
McCall can take an Osprey into flight without even leaving the ground in
a full-scale simulator that is both a teaching tool and test lab.

“They
(pilots) can fly missions practically anywhere in the world against
real-world threats and basically fly the exact same mission that they
would fly in an aircraft in the simulator,” McCall said.

The simulator helps engineers make faster upgrades to aircraft systems based on real-time information from pilots in the field.

“As
they were learning things about flying in a desert environment, desert
conditions, some of that information was being relayed back to us so
that we could begin making changes and modifications to this aircraft to
the systems here to give the operator better situational awareness,”
said McCall, who sees his position at Bell as a dream job, with results
that are a real motivator.

“In the end, we want to win and we
want them to come home safe and so that’s our main mission — so it’s an
amazing feeling to be a very small part of that," he said.


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