FORT WORTH -- A total of 290 employees are expected to receive layoff slips at Bell Helicopter, officials announced Monday.
The reductions -- effective immediately -- are expected to affect hourly and salaried employees, as well as management and non-management, Bell officials said. The staff reductions are needed to keep pace with cuts to defense budgets at the Pentagon, officials said.
“The realities of our business are changing,’’ Bell President and CEO Jim Garrison said in a statement released on Monday. “... Sequestration is having an adverse impact on our industry making the future for defense spending more uncertain than ever.”
Bell Helicopter manufactures the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which can fly like an airplane or a helicopter. The company has built more than 300 aircraft for the military.
But production of the aircraft is expected to fall by nearly half, Garrison said. In June, Bell signed a contract with the Navy for to the tune of 99 aircraft.
“It reduces the build rate on our biggest program by nearly half, which will negatively affect the level of work in the Fort Worth manufacturing centers very soon,’’ Garrison said. “And at the same time, commercial customers continue to demand increased value at more affordable prices – price matters and every dollar counts when competing in the global marketplace.”
The cuts are also expected to include 85 Bell contractors, officials said.
Staffing decisions are always difficult, Bell spokesman Bill Schroeder said Monday. But the company has seen “net growth” among employee ranks in recent years.
“Specifically, Bell Helicopter has grown by more than 1,300 employees in the last four years,’’ Schroeder said.
Bell employs more than 6,000 workers in Tarrant County.