Bell's V-280 is expected to complete "airplane mode" testing at the end of April. Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter
Textron reported in its first quarter earnings call Wednesday that revenue growth was up across its segments. For Bell specifically, military revenues were high, but commercial revenues were not.
Bell’s high military revenue and low commercial revenue together amounted to a 7.9% growth in overall revenue compared to the same period last year. However, the company had delivered more commercial helicopters — 46 in the first quarter, up from 27 sold in the same period last year.
Textron CEO Scott Donnelly noted that Bell is ramping up production and deliveries of its 505 Jet Ranger X, with first deliveries to European customers scheduled for the second quarter of this year. With the 525 back in full flight-testing status and work being done on the V-280, Donnelly projects seeing some increased spending in the market this year, perhaps in the third or fourth quarters. “The way the quarter played out,” he said, “is pretty consistent with what our expectations are.”
In February, the 505 saw introductions in the Asia-Pacific regions of Australia, Vietnam and Japan.
International demand for its 412 also remains strong, Donnelly said, “closing two multi-aircraft orders” this period. One of those orders was a 16-aircraft order by the Philippine Department of National Defense for the Philippine Air Force, according to a Bell press release.
As for Bell’s V-280 tiltrotor, Donnelly said the company is currently working on its envelope expansion. Bell had said earlier the aircraft is on track for flying in “airplane mode” with its nacelles all the way forward as part of its certification testing by the end of this month. Bell has presented the tiltotor as its solution for the U.S. Army Future Vertical Lift initiative to replace the force’s aging fleets of helicopters.
“[Capability set 3], which is really where the V-280 is aimed, we think is an important part,” Donnelly said on the call, according to a transcript by Seeking Alpha. “Certainly when we talk about [the Army’s] need for assault and that sort of long-range capability, we think that’s where the V-280 really shines.”