Bell Helicopter lays off 28 Amarillo employees - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Bell Helicopter lays off 28 Amarillo employees, even more in Fort Worth

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AMARILLO - Dozens of Amarillo Bell Helicopter employees are out of a job this week and the company says more cuts could be on the way.

Bell Helicopter confirmed Tuesday they're laying off approximately 290 employees and around 85 outside contractors. About 28 of those workers are in Amarillo.

Bell helicopter's President and CEO, John Garrison, sent out a mass e-mail to employees yesterday announcing the reduction in force.

Garrison attributed sequestration cuts as the reason for the layoffs, saying "the realities of our business are changing. The reductions in U.S. Defense budgets are real and sequestration is having an adverse impact on our industry making the future for defense spending more uncertain than ever."

Bell spokesperson Bill Schroeder said the production of V-22 ospreys is expected to be cut almost in half, even though bell just recently signed a contract with the Navy for 99 more aircraft.

U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry says Texas isn't alone in feeling the defense spending cuts and he's working to ease the pain.

"We've been trying to figure out a way to replace those sequestration savings with other targeted savings in high growth programs because this is so bad and cutting smarter is so necessary," Thornberry said.

Thornberry says Pantex has made had some voluntary reductions though no one has been laid off yet.

As for Bell Helicopter, Garrison said "we will have to continue working through some very difficult decisions in the months ahead to make the business successful. That means that there will likely be more reductions in the future."

"Staffing decisions like this are always difficult," he said. "Good people who have performed well will be asked to leave the company, but it is to ensure that we are successful in the future."

Schroeder said the layoffs include hourly employees as well as senior management staff. The majority of those layoffs are at the facility in fort worth.

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