Bell Future Hangs On Osprey

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After hovering below the profit line in 2001, Bell Helicopter Textron has recovered to a small profit and is looking for big things from its biggest gamble ever -- the V-22 Osprey. After some deadly failures earlier in the program, Bell CEO Peter Murphey is upbeat about the Osprey and other military programs. "I feel really good about where we are and what we accomplished last year," Murphey told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But industry analyst Peter Arment, of JSA Research, thinks "The V-22 is a company maker or breaker." The Osprey resumed flight tests in 2002 and the program faces a critical test in May when Pete Aldrich, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, reviews the program. Aldrich has been critical of the Osprey in the past. Bell has registered some successes with other projects, including a civilian tilt rotor that's almost ready for flight testing and a new helicopter, the AB-139, that it developed with Italy's Agusta.