Chinook News

Amarillo Site Completes Construction of V-22 Building Expansion

by Ashley Oldham

Amarillo Site

Bell Helicopter Photo

On July 1, 2009, Bell Helicopter took possession of a 176,072-square-foot expansion of the main assembly building at its Military Aircraft Assembly and Delivery Center in Amarillo, Texas.

Completed less than 11 months after ground was broken, the expansion gives Bell more than 500,000 square feet of assembly and office space under a single roof. The expansion extends 570 feet from the existing area and includes overhead cranes to move Ospreys within the building.

Osprey  on display

Bell Helicopter Photo

The new facility provides enough room to house 12 fully-assembled V-22 Ospreys in the building at one time. The expansion will help Bell, and its V-22 program partner Boeing, meet growing Osprey delivery commitments to the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force over the coming years. 

Bell delivered 12 H-1 helicopters and 18 V-22 tiltrotors from Amarillo in 2008. This year, the Military Aircraft Assembly and Delivery Center is scheduled to deliver 20 V-22s and seven H-1s.

Construction began in October on a new flight hangar that will be used to complete production of UH-1Y Hueys and AH-1Z Cobras under the Marine Corps’ H-1 Helicopter Upgrade Program. By moving H-1 flight operations to the new hanger, more space will be provided in the existing hangar for increased V-22 flight operations. Bell will eventually have the capacity to annually deliver 41 V-22 and 30 H-1 aircraft.

“The new facility will help Bell and Boeing continue its superior performance of on-time deliveries and customer satisfaction,” said Michael Scruggs, Bell’s senior vice president of Military Assembly. In the last two years, the Bell/Boeing team has delivered 35 V-22s in a row on or ahead of contract schedule.

“The expansion has provided a great opportunity for our company, since these aircraft are critical for our customers,” said Scruggs.

With the expansion, Bell is hiring additional employees to support the V-22 ramp-up in Amarillo. Staffing there is about 900 and is expected to rise to 950 by year’s end. Bell is seeking experienced aircraft assemblers, flight mechanics and electricians in Amarillo.

Today the workforce at the Military Aircraft Assembly Center includes employees of both Bell and Boeing, employees of several subcontractors, as well as representatives of the Defense Contract Management Agency and Naval Air Systems Command.

The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation has funded the latest expansion of the H-1 flight hangar along with other Bell initiatives, furnishing more one million feet of assembly, hangar and paint facilities for the company.