Bell celebrates 25 years in Tiltrotor, Texas

“Welcome to Tiltrotor, Texas,” suggested then Potter County Judge, Arthur Ware, on the stage of the Amarillo Civic Center’s Grand Plaza Ballroom, exactly 25 years ago today.

On Monday, August 3, 1998, close to 600 business leaders, community members and statewide officials gathered at the Amarillo Civic Center for an announcement from Bell naming Amarillo as the future home to its V-22 final assembly operations.

Bell Textron Inc., a subsidiary of Providence, R.I. – based Textron Inc., was set to produce hundreds of tiltrotors known as the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey for the U.S. Marine Corps and the Air Force. Although headquartered in the Fort Worth area, Bell was on the search for a new home for the V-22 assembly center and conducted an eight-month search across America examining 1,200 potential sites. A decision to keep the facility in Texas put Amarillo up against major cities in Texas such as Arlington, Austin, College Station, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

“The celebration was an exciting day because we knew the potential that this program would have for the future of Amarillo and our Military,” explains former Mayor and City Commissioner, Trent Sisemore as he reflects on that celebration so many years ago. “This was the culmination of many months of negotiations and work by community leaders who realized this was an opportunity that we may never have again, and we wanted to put Amarillo on the map as a player for any company that wanted to expand and do big things.”

Now 25 years later, the V-22 Osprey has fundamentally changed how the U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force and now Navy operates in combat and humanitarian operations. With a fleet of over 400 aircraft accumulating more than 700,000 flight hours, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey continues to prove it’s one of the most versatile and reliable aircraft for our customers and national security around the globe.

As of 2021, the partnership with Amarillo and the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation’s investment of $120M over the years has resulted in Bell driving $2.1B back into the local economy.

Along with the V-22 program, Bell’s Amarillo team have historically produced OH-58, UH-1Y, and AH-1Z military helicopters at the facility, as well as future aircraft including the Bell 525, the 360 Invictus prototype, and Bell’s V-280 technology demonstrator that has been selected as the U.S. Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft – a program of historic scope and scale to both Bell and Army Aviation.

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