Bell Helicopter to lay off 1,100 worldwide

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Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter plans to lay off about 1,100 employees globally because of a slowdown in production of the company’s V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and a soft market for its commercial helicopters.

“We are taking immediate measures to proactively align our cost structure with current and projected business requirements, and ensure our products and services remain affordable,” the company said in a statement. “Effective immediately, we are taking steps to reduce our global workforce by approximately 1,100 employees. These reductions will apply to all areas of the business, both management and non-management, and covered and non-covered workers.”

Several weeks ago, Bell announced it would cut 315 workers from its V-22 program, also citing a slowdown in production.

Bell officials said they had anticipated the V-22 program slowdown, but were caught off guard, as was the industry, by the weak commercial market.

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“While we anticipated and planned for the decreased production of V-22s, we also anticipated the commercial market would rebound – and that did not happen,” the company said in a statement. “Across the industry, global commercial orders and deliveries in the medium market continue to be significantly below forecast.”

Textron Inc., Bell’s parent company, reported first quarter results on April 27 and noted that Bell revenue had dropped by $60 million, mostly because of a decline in V-22 orders. The company also noted that commercial aviation orders were hampered by the slowdown in activity in the oil and gas industry.

From Textron’s earnings release:

Bell

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Bell revenues decreased $60 million, primarily the result of lower V-22 deliveries.

Bell delivered 6 V-22’s and 4 H-1’s in the quarter, compared to 8 V-22’s and 5 H-1’s in last year’s first quarter and 35 commercial helicopters, compared to 34 units last year.

Segment profit decreased $20 million primarily due to the lower volumes and an unfavorable mix of commercial aircraft deliveries.

Bell backlog at the end of the first quarter was $5.3 billion, down $237 million from the end of the fourth quarter.

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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