A new president has taken the reins at Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd. as that manufacturing unit adjusts to changing market conditions and shifting production approaches.
Cynthia Garneau, an 11-year veteran of the company based in the Montreal suburb of Mirabel, Quebec, took over as president in late January. She succeeded Raymond Leduc, who held the presidency for slightly more than a year and left to become president of the North American unit of the Swedish company Volvo Bus.
Garneau in late 2004 joined Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, the Textron subsidiary that manufactures the Model 407, 412 and 429 for Bell Helicopter. She worked briefly as manager of commercial business contracts before serving for 7.5 years as director of corporate affairs and director of supply chain management for 2.5 years. Before becoming president, she was director of integrated business planning and production engineering for seven months.
The Mirabel operation has been dealing with changes driven by Bell Helicopter’s decision to build its new light, single-engine helicopter, the 505 JetRanger X, not in Canada but in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Another factor affecting Mirabel has been the ongoing plunge in oil prices, which has suppressed demand for helicopters like the medium twin 412 that support offshore oil and gas exploration and production. That downturn also has flooded the used helicopter market with medium and heavy helicopters, which has further affected sales of new aircraft in those weight categories.
The change in leadership coincided with the latest round of job cuts at Mirabel. Fifty workers were laid off or left voluntarily in January and company officials said more are planned.
That was the fourth round of job cuts in the last 18 months. In that time, about 700 positions have been eliminated, or roughly 40% of the Mirabel workforce.