Test flight of new Bell V-280 aircraft; military contract could spell more jobs for Amarillo

Test flight of new Bell V-280 aircraft,; military contract could spell more jobs for Amarillo

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Bell held its first public demonstration of a new military aircraft it hopes will help land a contract and bring dozens of jobs to Amarillo.

"This is a brand new aircraft," said Bell Executive Vice-President Robert Hastings. "It is not a V-22. It is designed from the ground up, brand new, we are breaking through technologies."

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Bell's new aircraft is designed strictly for the military, to aid in combat situations.

"This is a tilt-rotor product for the United States Army," said Hastings. "[It] will give them the ability to fly twice as fast, and twice as far as any military aircraft does today."

Bell views the first public test flight of the V-280 Valor as a success. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick views the company's involvement in Amarillo as a success.

"The fact that Amarillo had the foresight to say, 'we are going to invest in Bell and bring Bell here'," said Lt. Governor Patrick. "It is really a tribute to the forward thinking of the people of Amarillo."

A military contract could spell huge economic growth for the area. If granted a contract, Bell plans to build 120 to 150 V-280 aircraft every year.

"We have over 800 direct jobs here at the plant," said Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson. "But, we have over 5,000 indirect jobs related to the work Bell does in our community. When you begin to look at the potential army contract for the V-280, it is a huge impact."

Mayor Nelson said a contract would also bring recognition to the Panhandle.

"When all that comes together to have a national and worldwide impact for us, and we here in Amarillo played a part in that," said Mayor Nelson. "It makes me extremely proud of our workforce here in Amarillo as well as our vision for the economic impact that Bell has in our community."

Lt. Governor Patrick said big businesses investing in small towns is what keeps Texas,Texas.

"When you think about Texas, you think about towns like Amarillo, and it's important that we keep them vibrant," said Lt. Governor Patrick. "We know that most of the population is going to be in the triangle of Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and then now Austin with that corridor, that's where most of the growth is. But it's important we attract businesses to our towns in rural Texas to keep these great cities, and communities alive."

Lt. Governor Patrick hopes more people are inspired by Bell and more areas will receive business that can help local economic growth.

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