P.M. BRIEFING : Bell Helicopter to Lay Off 115

<i> From Times Wire Services </i>

Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., whose V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft military project faces an uncertain future because of defense cuts, said today it will lay off 115 employees to “help improve cost efficiencies.”

The work reduction action will affect both hourly and salaried workers and won’t be concentrated in a particular program or production, a company spokesman said. The military and commercial helicopter maker employs about 7,000 people.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney has proposed to eliminate the V-22 project, one of the largest defense projects for Bell Helicopter. It is being jointly developed by Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing Helicopters of Ridley Township, Pa.

Proposed cuts in the defense budget have affected other area companies that rely heavily on such contracts.