Sky Talk

Bell Helicopter sued by Houston-based rotor shaft supplier

A main rotor shaft supplier has sued Bell Helicopter for over a million dollars, alleging that the Fort Worth helicopter manufacturer has failed to pay invoices for parts and services.

Textool, a Houston-based firm, filed the lawsuit last month in Tarrant County, asking for a jury trial to settle the contract dispute between the two companies.

Bell declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In the suit, Textool says Bell Helicopter provided raw material that was failing safety inspections. When Textool officials asked Bell what to do with the material, they were instructed to try to use the material and Bell would compensate them for any parts that had to be discarded. Bell later chose not to reimburse Textool for the failed parts.

As the contract dispute continued, Textool laid off about 30 employees in June, said Michael Van Dorfy, Jr., a director at Textool.

“We’ve supplied Bell 80 percent of their main rotor shafts since their inception,” Van Dorfy said. “That’s all we do.”

Van Dorfy noted that Bell has experienced a downturn in its commercial and military helicopter business and Textool had been making adjustments at its facility to slow production earlier this year. However, Textool did not expect that it would have to stop making main rotor shaft parts altogether. The company still has raw material at its facility that has not been used, he said.

“Right now, [Bell doesn’t] seem to want to receive anything and we aren’t shipping anything,” Van Dorfy said. “It was a cessation of business between the two companies and that was certainly not by our choosing.”

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk