Bell Helicopter is expanding its assembly plant at Amarillo International Airport, Texas, to accommodate the H-1 assembly line, the company has confirmed.

Chief executive Michael Redenbaugh announced that the Fort Worth-based manufacturer is adding 113,300ft2 (10,500m2) to its existing operation.

Bell's Amarillo facility has been the assembly and delivery centre for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor programme since 1999.

The H-1 Programme is a major upgrade to remanufacture the US Marine Corps' fleet of AH-1W SuperCobra and UH-1N utility helicopters to a configuration featuring common engines and flight dynamics. The programme involves 100 UH-1N and 180 AH-1W SuperCobra helicopters. The AH-1W will be redesignated as the AH-1Z and the UH-1N will become the UH-1Y.

Bell says construction of the assembly building is expected to be completed by October 2004.

Source: Flight Daily News