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Hawker Beechcraft to keep Wichita's Plant I open, saving hundreds of jobs

Thursday, March 15 2012 12:00 AM

  • The Wichita Eagle

  • Published Thursday, March 15, 2012, at 7:59 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 15, 2012, at 8:07 a.m.

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 In a move that will save hundreds of Wichita jobs, Hawker Beechcraft will keep Plant 1 open rather than close it as previously announced.

The decision came as part of a joint partnership between the company and the Machinists union forged during contract negotiations last year.

"As of today, it is expected that current Plant 1 operations will essentially remain unchanged," a memo to union stewards, team leaders and crew chiefs said this morning. The memo is signed by the HBC Joint Partnership Steering Committee.

Last year, Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture said the company would close Plants 1 and 2 and move the work to outside suppliers and to its facility in Chihuahua, Mexico, a move that would eliminate hundreds of jobs.

The company and union anticipate that there will be movement of work between Plant 1 and suppliers. However, some work may return to the plant, and other work may move, the memo said.

"Assuming aircraft build rates remain at current levels, the overall volume of work performed in Plant 1 is expected to be maintained while this revised strategy is developed and implemented," the memo said.

Workers in Plant I perform fabrication work, such as the production of small part assemblies.

The company’s manufacturing operations is emphasizing quality and on-time performance.

An “intensive lean/continuous improvement” initiative will be launched as meaningful efficiency and cost improvements are required for Plant 1 to be in a more cost competitive position, the memo said.

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