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March 13, 2008

Rumors: Bell to hire Sikorsky ex, V-22 critic

The rumor and gossip mill at Bell Helicopter has been running at warp speed the last few days over reports the company may hire a former top official of rival Sikorsky Aircraft Co. to take over as senior vice president of engineering and head of Bell's Xworkx research and development lab.

The suggestion that Bell may hire Nick Lappos, now an executive with Gulftream Aerospace but formerly an engineer, test pilot and head of the effort to sell Sikorsky's S-92 to the U.S. armed forces, has stirred up a tempest among old line Bell loyalists.

Some Bell employees and former employees have reportedly written letters to senior management at the company urging reconsideration if Lappos is indeed being considered for a Bell post.

Bell and Sikorsky have long been competitors and rivals, at times less than friendly. Lappos, who is well respected by many in the helicopter world, has earned the enmity of many Bell loyalists because of his past criticisms of the V-22 Osprey and Bell's other tilt-rotor aircraft development efforts including the BA609 civil tilt-rotor.

Lappos has not returned telephone calls and e-mails from the Star-Telegram. Bell officials have declined to comment on "any personnel matters."

Bell has hired several other former Sikorsky officials in recent years including Mike Blake, now executive vice president of the Fort Worth company. One industry official said Lappos is an excellent engineer and works well with other people and would have little problem renouncing his past criticisms of the V-22 to go to work for Bell.

- Bob Cox

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Comments

That New Guy

As an employee of Bell for over 10 years, I have seen my share of CEO's come and go. It is nothing but a revolving door for good ol boys. The CEO's of Bell have done the most damage to the company by bringing in their buiddies into the company in a pure BS position and paying them top dollar for essentially no output. They do nothing...they produce nothing and they cost the company a helluva lot of money. Case and point....Juan Frejole...AKA John Bean. Released by LMT and picked up by Redenbaugh. Or what about PD Shabay. He has been around since Christ was a Corporal and was to retire last month...Did he? No! Now he appears as a consultant under the name Paul D. Shabay...PD is no longer there.

Tommy H. Thomason

I worked at Bell for a while as a few people might still remember. I've also worked at Sikorsky with Nick Lappos. I'm certain that if Nick comes to Bell, everybody - except maybe those who think they should have had the job he takes - will quickly come to appreciate his intelligence, experience, work ethic, and camaraderie. And by and by, even most of those who were disappointed not to get his job should come around. For those at Bell who worked with Jack Horner (who also came from Sikorsky), he's a Jack Horner kind of guy. I can't recommend Nick too highly.

That New Guy

Well, Mike Blake hasn't impressed many of us at all. We'll give Lappos a fair shake but our track record of executives isn't an example of "picking the cream of the crop." It started with Stinson and has only gotten worse. Innovation and R&D is not a priority. It is quite often outsourced. Everything seems to be COTS. Bell isn't willing to take a chance on creating anymore. It's the same stuff over and over. I can't go into any specifics but things used to be a lot better a long time ago. Six Sigma is a proven failure but it is being shoved down our throats. It has come to a point where we are so bogged down in processes, meetings and forms that production takes a back seat. This is coming from a low seniority shop guy. I don't know what the view of the company looks like from Mahogany Row but from the shop floor, its not looking good.

Outsider

As an outsider it is interesting to note that Bell would hire such a vocal critic of the tilt rotor programs to become an executive in their Engineering. Is he going to say "he really didn't mean it"? All the bad things he said about the V-22 and 609 were just what? Obviously, the politics in this matter are hard to understand.

Outsider

I don't get it. Nick Lappos has been a vocal critic of tilt rotor programs, including both the V-22 and 609. Is he now going to say "OOPS" or "I was just kidding"? It just makes no sense. I guess I don't understand the Executive politics at Bell.

That New Guy

Lappos has been silent. Loringer is pitching his "I know everything but I am willing to listen" ....cough cough speech. Nobody is buying it.

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