Declining V-22 orders prompt Bell layoffs
May 8, 2014 By The Star Telegram
May 8, 2014, Fort Worth, Tx. - Bell Helicopter is cutting 325 more jobs as the Fort Worth-based manufacturer continues to downsize in the face of declining defense spending and competitive pressures, officials said Monday.
The layoffs will affect both managerial and nonmanagerial employees,
as well as employees who are members of the United Auto Workers Union
Local 218 in Hurst, the company said.
The latest cuts, which will
largely affect its Fort Worth operations, brings Bell’s staff reductions
to more than 700 since early last year.
The company, which is a
division of Rhode Island-based Textron, reported a drop in revenues of
$76 million, or 8 percent, to $873 million, in first-quarter earnings
released last week. The sales slump was blamed on lower commercial and
military aircraft deliveries, according to the report.
Bell CEO John Garrison attributed the new round of layoffs to continuing reductions in the nation’s defense budget.
decisions like this are always difficult — but it is necessary to
ensure that Bell Helicopter remains a viable business in the future,”
Garrison wrote in a memo to employees Monday.
UAW officials did not respond to an email requesting comment about the layoffs.
had announced several layoffs since March 2013. In January this year,
it announced 115 layoffs for company engineers. In September, it laid
off 290 workers, mostly in Fort Worth. And in March 2013, it announced
layoffs of about 15 hourly workers. It has also offered buyouts to
workers 55 and older.
In recent years, the Pentagon has cut by
nearly half its orders for the V-22 Osprey, the tilt-rotor aircraft
produced in Fort Worth and Amarillo. Under a current contract, which
ends in 2015, the company is producing about 30 aircraft a year. More
than 200 Ospreys are in operation.
In June 2013, the company was
awarded a second multiyear contract to build 99 more V-22 Ospreys. The
five-year contract for production and delivery of the aircraft was
valued at about $6.5 billion, officials said. The contract with the U.S.
Naval Air Systems Command also included a provision to produce 23
The V-22 uses tilt-rotor technology to
combine the speed and range of a fixed-wing airplane with the vertical
performance of a helicopter. The aircraft, produced in partnership with
Boeing Co., is being used in Afghanistan to ferry freight and soldiers.
It’s assembled at Bell’s plant in Amarillo with many parts made in the
Fort Worth area.
Last year, Israel requested U.S. permission to buy six V-22s, which would be the first foreign sale of the tilt-rotor.
last week’s earnings report, Textron said that Bell delivered eight
V-22s and five H-1s in the quarter, compared with nine V-22s and six
H-1s in last year’s first quarter. Deliveries of commercial helicopters
declined to 34 from 40 units last year.
Textron said that Bell’s
first-quarter profit decreased by 25 percent to $96 million, primarily
reflecting an unfavorable mix of commercial aircraft deliveries and the
Bell’s backlog at the end of the first quarter was $6.3 billion, down $197 million from the end of 2013.
Bell employs about 6,500 workers in Tarrant County, of whom 5,000 work in the Fort Worth area.
company is undergoing a $235 million modernization of its headquarters
in east Fort Worth, including construction of a 200,000-square-foot,
four-story administrative building scheduled to open this year.
Bell will consolidate operations from other parts of Tarrant County when the expansion is complete.
city of Fort Worth approved a tax-incentive deal worth $13.5 million
over 10 years for the expansion. As part of the deal, Bell committed to
keep 4,500 employees in Fort Worth through 2020, 4,100 workers in 2021
and 2022, and 3,900 from 2023 through 2028.