Bell Helicopter (Fort Worth, Texas, USA), a Textron Inc. company, announced on June 21 at the Paris Air Show that AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, has agreed to purchase Bell's ownership interest in the BA609 tiltrotor program, a Bell-AgustaWestland joint venture. Bell Helicopter will remain the key supplier of engineering services and key components to the program.
With money realized from the sale, Bell Helicopter says it plans to increase its research and development investments over the next five years for its commercial product line and for next-generation tiltrotor technologies. As part of its continued commitment to further evolving tiltrotor technologies, Bell-Boeing has acquired a V-22 Osprey for ongoing development. Bell-Boeing is a supplier of composite structures and other parts for the V-22.
"Both companies agree it is the best business decision for AgustaWestland to take ownership of the program with Bell Helicopter serving as the key engineering and component supplier," said John L. Garrison, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter. "This decision will free up research and development resources, allowing Bell Helicopter to increase our investment in the revolutionary V-22, to develop the next-generation tiltrotor technologies for U.S. Department of Defense programs and other applications, as well as increase our investment in our innovative commercial product line."
The V-22 Osprey, produced by a Bell-Boeing strategic alliance, features unique tiltrotor technology and is fielded by the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command and the U.S. Marine Corps. The Osprey can fly twice as fast and three times as far as any conventional helicopter. The V-22 Osprey has completed more than 110,000 flight hours and has received the highest safety rating for any tactical rotorcraft in the Marine Corps.