Mitch Snyder on Oct. 15, 2015, succeeded John Garrison as Bell Helicopter’s president. A 30-year aerospace and defense veteran, Snyder has held several leadership positions in his 11 years with Bell in 2004. He led a number of Bell’s most strategic initiatives, including overall operation of its government business and direction of the V-22 program.
Why is Bell bringing the V-280, a military rotorcraft, to a civil helicopter trade show?
We will have plenty of commercial aircraft at Heli-Expo—our 525 Relentless and 505 JetRanger X flight test vehicles, a 407GXP for emergency medical services, a 429 configured for utility missions and a 412EPI configured for utility missions.
In leading Bell, I intend to place an emphasis on innovation. We want to show not only our innovation in commercial aircraft—in the 505 and 525, the first fly-by-wire commercial helicopter and all the benefits that brings; We want to show that we are leading innovation in tiltrotor technology, and the V-280 does that. You’ll also able to see what we’re doing with the next-generation tiltrotor.
What will change at Bell under your leadership?
I’ve been part of the executive leadership team at Bell for five years. I’ve been part of the organization that set in place the company’s strategy of a business model balanced between military and commercial. That’s going to continue.
My unique approach is in a couple of areas.
One, as I’ve mentioned, is an increased emphasis on innovation. I mean that in terms of leaps in technology, not just incremental movements. And that’s in terms of products, processes and services. Safety will always be at the core of those leaps.
The second increased emphasis is going to be on our people. They are our number one resource at Bell, and they are truly what make us great here.
How was 2015 for Bell?
Bell Helicopter did have a great year. Given all the market challenges, we had some great successes.
First, we took one of our largest helicopter orders in history, with the 200 407GXPs to Air Methods. We also had the Japan UH-X win with Fuji Heavy Industries for 150 aircraft based on our 412EPI. We’ve received approximately 350 letters of intent for the Bell 505. We’ve received approximately 75 LOIs for the Bell 525.
We did have that great announcement that the U.S. Navy has chosen the V-22 to be their next carrier-on-board delivery aircraft, approximately 40 aircraft for that. We did receive our first foreign military sales of the V-22, to Japan, and the foreign military sales of the AH-1Z to Pakistan.
So really good movement on the sales side. As far as the development programs, the 505 and the 525, they continue to make great progress.
As far as 2016 goes, the market is going to be the same as it was this year, as far as we can see. We’re going to continue to work on that balanced business model. We’re going to invest in our development programs—the 505, the 525 and the V-280.
This year, we’re going to continue to execute on our existing production programs and make all of our deliveries to schedule, and we’re going to continue to strengthen our cost competitiveness globally by improving our processes.