Bell Helicopter and Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas are teaming up to build the skills of the manufacturer’s workforce at its Amarillo plant, which produces Bell/Boeing V-22s for the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force and H-1s for the Marines.
Amarillo also is planned as the production site of VH-71 U.S. presidential transports based on the AgustaWestland EH101. (The Marines also will fly the VH-71s.)
The college will use a nearly $250,000 grant from the state’s Skills Development Fund to pay for the training. The grant has been used to train new hires as well as those employees who are shifting jobs, said Ed Nolte, division chair of the college’s Industrial and Transportation Technologies program as well as head of the aviation program. Bell employees are receiving sheet-metal training for the H-1 program as well advanced electrical training for the H-1 and V-22 programs. Because the V-22 makes extensive use of composite materials, classes concerning composite fasteners are taught. A V-22 familiarization class as well as safety classes relating to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency standards are given. Many Bell employees are former Amarillo students. Nolte said the college has been teaching classes to new students as well as Bell employees in an effort to encourage home-grown avionics technicians.