The majority of Bell Helicopter employees who were laid off in February have returned to their jobs.

Of the 500 employees who were dismissed, 400 have been rehired by the company.

Many of the employees were called back to work in recent weeks, and the remainder of the workers will be back on the job by the end of the month, according to a report published in La Presse.

The company had been forced to slow down production at its Mirabel plant in the winter because clients were delaying their orders, as they struggled to deal with the turbulent economy.

"If their operations are reduced, they have no choice but to slow down the rate at which they're buying helicopters from us," Michel Legault, Bell Helicopter's director of business development, told CTV Montreal in February.

Lucrative new contract

Bell Helicopter has secured a $60.3-million (US) contract to build 24 Model 407 helicopters destined for the Iraqi Air Force.

According to a press release on the company's website, the U.S. Army will supply the Iraqi Air Force with the helicopters "as part of a planned Foreign Military Sale to Iraq."

"Initial aircraft deliveries to the U.S. Army are expected to begin later this year. The 24 Model 407 helicopters, built at Bell's commercial aircraft manufacturing facility in Mirabel, Canada, will be militarized by the U.S. Army to meet Iraqi Air Force requirements."