Print This Article The Wichita Eagle Back to web version
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Brownback to announce Bombardier incentives deal

BY MOLLY McMILLIN
The Wichita Eagle

Gov. Sam Brownback plans to be in Wichita on Tuesday to announce details of an incentives agreement between the state of Kansas and Bombardier’s Learjet facility here, a source confirmed Friday.

The incentives package will help with the expansion of the plant to make room for Bombardier’s newest business jet – the eight-passenger, intercontinental Learjet 85. The $52.7 million project will mean 450 jobs at the site, the company has said.

The state has said its commitment could run between $16 million and $18 million in bonds. City and county officials have already approved their portion of the plan: $1 million each.

Brownback will be joined by city, county, state and Bombardier officials at a news conference at the plant, the source said.

Brownback’s chief of staff, David Kensinger, told the Wichita Pachyderm Club during a speech Friday that Brownback will be in Wichita on Tuesday to make an announcement regarding the aviation industry.

“Aviation will grow in Kansas; aviation will grow in Wichita,” Kensinger told the group. He would not provide any details on Brownback’s announcement.

This would be Bombardier’s second incentives deal with the state in as many years.

In mid-2010, Bombardier announced a new Wichita assembly site for the Learjet 85, which will sustain or create 600 jobs, in exchange for about $27 million in bond financing from the state. The company also agreed not to move any existing operations out of Wichita during the life of the bonds.

Bombardier is ready to further expand the site for the Learjet 85. The expansion includes three new buildings: a paint facility, a preflight facility and a delivery center. In addition, Bombardier – based in Montreal – will expand its flight testing capacity and move more of its company-wide engineering and information technology functions to Wichita.

Already, a production hangar has been vacated and expanded to take on final assembly.

The delivery center will be located so that the public will be able to see the sleek jets inside as they drive by, company officials have said.

Wichita will perform the final assembly, install the interiors, paint the all-composite jets, flight-test them and then deliver them.

The city and county incentives will be used toward the cost of removing and rebuilding existing parking lots to provide space for the new buildings. The company will continue to lease the new parking lots from the Wichita Airport Authority. The incentives also include property tax abatements.

The Airport Authority will also apply for a $2 million federal economic development grant to help pay for the new parking lots.

The incentives are needed for the deal to make financial sense to Bombardier executives, officials have said.

Bombardier launched the Learjet 85 program in 2007. The plane is expected to enter service in 2013.

The Learjet 85’s large components will be made at the company’s plant in Mexico. Wing components will be built at its Belfast facility in Northern Ireland, which makes the composite wing on the company’s C-Series airliner. Wings will be built using a resin transfer infusion process developed by Bombardier and adapted for the business jet.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com

© 2012 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansas.com