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Sunday, January 1, 2006

Rotorcraft Report: Bell Opens New Repair, Overhaul Facility

MILITARY

Bell Opens New Repair, Overhaul Facility

Bell Helicopter has opened a new, $20-million repair and overhaul center to support its helicopters currently operated by the U.S. military. These are primarily the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and AH-1W Cobra, but will also include the upgraded UH-1Y, AH-1Z and V-22 when they enter service within the next few years.

Key to the new facility is its improved efficiency of operation, which reflects the depth of cultural change spearheaded by CEO Mike Redenbaugh, the company said. The new facility went from concept to reality in eight months, four months ahead of schedule. It was designed using Textron's Six Sigma program, which is designed to eliminate waste and streamline tasks.

David Martin, the center's director, said that an example of the improved efficiency is that rotor blades that used to travel more than 1.6 mi. during the repair process now travel only about 300 ft. Martin added that overhead handling of blades has been reduced from seven times during repairs to two.

"This facility is a tool that will support the troops on the frontlines, but will also help to manage our business in a more efficient way," Martin said. "It will allow Bell to provide superior service at reduced cost and provide the long-term support that our customers are looking for."

Although designed to support military helicopters, the new facility will be certified as an FAA Repair Station.

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