Defense Cuts Cited in Boeing Wichita Shutdown

Production programs winding down, work reassigned to other locations

The Boeing Defense, Space & Security plant in Wichita, Kan., will cease operations late next year, the parent company announced, indicating cuts in U.S. Dept. of Defense spending is impacting its production plans. Chicago-based Boeing Co. said the plant would close by the end of 2013, affecting more than 2,160 employees there.

Pointing “shifting customer priorities” as well as defense-budget cuts, a Boeing executive said the company has decided to “reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and drive competitiveness."

"The decision to close our Wichita facility was difficult but ultimately was based on a thorough study of the current and future market environment and our ability to remain competitive while meeting our customers' needs with the best and most affordable solutions," stated Mark Bass, v.p. and general manager for BDS' Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades.

The Wichita plant is home to Boeing’s Global Transport & Executive Systems business, B-52 and 767 International Tanker programs, and it supports flight-mission planning and integrated logistics. Boeing said the plant’s production programs have “matured” in recent years, closing or slowing down to such a point that the plant “does not have enough sustainable business on the horizon to create an affordable cost structure to maintain and win new business.”

In the future Boeing’s San Antonio plant will handle aircraft maintenance, modification and support work, while engineering work will be sited at Boeing’s Oklahoma City plant. Work on the Boeing KC-46 refueling tanker will be reassigned to the Puget Sound, Wash., complex, but Boeing emphasized that program suppliers based in Kansas maintain their positions.

Bass said Boeing would start to shift its production programs away from the Wichita site over the coming months.

The first job cuts resulting from the Wichita plant decision will likely take effect in the third quarter of this year. "We recognize how this will affect the lives of the highly skilled men and women who work here, so we will do everything possible to assist our employees, their families and our community through this difficult transition," Bass said. Boeing will offer help to laid-off workers, including help locating new jobs within the company or outside of Boeing, retirement seminars, job-search assistance, and financial counseling.

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