Fort Worth, Texas - Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, has commenced construction for its new global headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. Governor Rick Perry, U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Mayor Betsy Price joined John Garrison, President and CEO of Bell Helicopter, to commemorate the occasion at a groundbreaking ceremony today at Bell Helicopter's headquarters in Fort Worth.
The leaders made remarks highlighting Bell Helicopter's march of progress in its military and commercial programs, its global expansion and responsiveness, its commitment to Fort Worth, as well as the company's desire to help revitalize Northeast Tarrant County.
Bell Helicopter plans to invest $230 million in new and upgraded facilities as part of a comprehensive revitalization effort. Bell Helicopter is revitalizing its facilities to provide its more than 6,000 North Texas-based employees with a better, safer, more comfortable work environment, and to attract and retain the talented workforce needed to grow its business in Texas.
"Bell Helicopter has long been an important and valuable member of the Texas aerospace and aviation community, and we're excited they have recommitted to keeping Texas the home of this dynamic and enduring endeavor," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said. "Texas' commitment to our strong, conservative fiscal principles, like low taxes, reasonable regulations, fair courts and a skilled workforce, keep companies like Bell Helicopter healthy and happy, and continue to attract employers and individuals alike to the Lone Star State."
U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger also attended Monday's groundbreaking, and lauded the company's revitalization efforts. "These investments reflect Bell Helicopter's commitment to the community, and mirror their commitment to the customers they serve - the men and women of the armed forces and first responders around the globe."
"I applaud Bell Helicopter's commitment to the State of Texas and their leading role in the aviation and aerospace industry," said Lt. Governor Dewhurst. "Their combination of research and development, engineering, manufacturing and assembly operations is exactly the kind of work we need to keep Texas at the forefront of aerospace technology and keep our economy growing."
The revitalization effort is designed to consolidate more than 1.2 million square feet of excess space, reduce building maintenance costs and reduce 20% of the company's waste and energy use by 2015. These changes are expected to improve coordination and collaboration, increase cost-competitiveness and are projected to save Bell Helicopter $19 million in annual operating expenses.
"I appreciate Bell Helicopter's commitment to our community. The revitalization of Northeast Tarrant County, Fort Worth and the mid-cities is absolutely essential and they are playing a key role in transforming this region," said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley of the company's investments along the State Highway 10 Corridor.
Bell Helicopter's renovations and new construction follow the practices of LEED - an internationally recognized green building program. The company's state-of-the-art employee center incorporates the use of natural lighting to save energy and efficient landscaping that requires 40% less water than traditional methods. Bell Helicopter has been recognized as a leader in the green initiative as the 2011 winner for both The Greater DFW Recycling Alliance "Outstanding Sustainability Program" and the North Texas Corporate Recycling Association (NTCRA) "Stupendous Recycling Program".
"Bell Helicopter is a large part of the rich legacy of the aerospace and defense industry in Fort Worth. I am proud to have Bell Helicopter headquartered in Fort Worth and honored that the city is a partner in these vital investments," commented Mayor Price.
Bell Helicopter's future headquarters will be home to administration, support functions, program offices, a customer center and an integrated training facility. The Bell Helicopter training facility, currently located at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, is moving to the new global headquarters to bring Bell Helicopter's products closer to its people.
"Expanding our global headquarters in Fort Worth is a smart approach that makes sense as a business and a neighbor in the community. This is an investment in our future that enables us to become a stronger global competitor while providing our employees with a better, safer, more comfortable work environment," stated Garrison.
Bell Helicopter announced in the case of Eurocopter vs. Bell Helicopter, a three Judge panel of France's Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris recently ruled that the Bell 429 production skid gear does not infringe Eurocopter's French landing skid gear patent. All Bell 429s have been and will continue to be delivered with the current production gear.
"This ruling by the French court, once again validating the design of the Bell 429 production skid gear, is a resounding victory for Bell Helicopter," said John L. Garrison, President and CEO of Bell Helicopter. "Integrity is woven into the fiber of our company and we work tirelessly to ensure our actions are consistent with this core value."
In finding that the Bell 429's skid gear does not infringe the Eurocopter patent, the French Court dismissed the claims against Bell Helicopter. The Court also ordered Eurocopter to pay the costs of the proceedings, and to pay BHTI and Bell Canada each the sum of €65,000 in costs.
"We intend to continue to vigorously defend the production gear in the pending Eurocopter infringement suit in the U.S. This ruling underscores the Canadian court's decision in a similar ruling in favor of Bell Helicopter and provides strong support for our position," said Garrison.
The Bell 429 is the world's newest and most advanced light twin-engine helicopter. It has set the standard for light twins; delivers exceptional speed, range, hover performance and enhanced safety margins, with comfort and cost management unmatched by any competitor. With superior speed, best-in-class cabin volume, state-of-the-art glass flight deck that enhances crew situational awareness, and Bell Helicopter's industry leading support and services, the Bell 429 is quickly becoming the preferred aircraft in the light, twin-engine market. The Bell 429 offers superior mission capability and adaptability, and is available in configuration options ranging from VIP to HEMS, law enforcement, utility and oil & gas.
Bell Helicopter is participating in the voluntary flight demonstration (VFD) the week of Oct. 22 with the Bell Helicopter Block II OH-58 Kiowa Warrior. The U.S. Army is conducting these VFD's as part of their effort to replace to the current OH-58D scout helicopter. Scout helicopters fulfill a vital role for the Army including battlefield reconnaissance and armed response.
"The OH-58 Kiowa Warrior has earned an unmatched reputation in the scout community and we firmly believe that our Block II will continue this tradition while it delivers greater performance, new technology and even better reliability," said Mitch Snyder, Bell Helicopter's executive vice president of Military Programs.
Building on its stellar performance, proven reliability, demand history and existing upgrade programs, the new Bell Helicopter Block II Kiowa Warrior will continue to meet the evolving needs of the Army for the next generation of scout helicopters. The Block II combines a new and more powerful engine with an enhanced tail rotor to deliver a fast fielding aircraft to achieve 6,000 feet and 95 degree performance. This proven Block upgrade will cost much less than a commercial off the shelf (COTS) design. The Block II upgrade will also blend seamlessly into the Army's existing supply chains, training programs and personnel system.
The Kiowa Warrior Block II also delivers a multitude of other advancements that include a state of the art Nose Mounted Sensor and enhanced situational awareness from three full color Multi-Function Displays. Looking to the future beyond the Block II, Bell Helicopter is developing a Block III which will have the Future Advance Rotor Drive System transmission, new rotor, and is an IFR rated aircraft.
"As proven with all the other Army Combat Fleet Helicopters in operation today, we believe by employing the Block modernization concept we can deliver a helicopter that meets today's requirements, while providing a clear roadmap for future upgrades as well," continued Snyder. During a Block upgrade program, using a rugged, reliable airframe like the Kiowa, the aircraft is continuously infused with the latest advances in technology, without the added expense of creating a new program.
Since its introduction into the Army fleet in 1992, the OH-58D has been in continuous use, logged more than 800,000 combat flight hours, and consistently achieves the highest availability and readiness rates for any Army helicopter. It remains the most requested Close Air Support (CAS) platform by ground commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With a rugged body, and the ability to be continuously upgraded the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior has served the U.S. Army well. The OH-58 will provide the Army with a low risk, low cost, fast fielding solution that meets the Army's scout helicopter requirements now and into the foreseeable future.
About Bell Helicopter
Bell Helicopter, a wholly owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., is an industry-leading producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft. Globally recognized for world-class customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell's global workforce serves customers flying Bell aircraft in more than 120 countries.
About Textron Inc.
Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft Company, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, and Textron Systems.