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Bombardier Learjet layoffs to affect about 200 in Wichita

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at 4:40 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at 6:22 p.m.

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Delays in the Learjet 85 program are causing job cuts at Bombardier Learjet’s Wichita facility and a facility in Queretero, Mexico.

In Wichita, the cuts will affect about 200 people, said Learjet spokeswoman Molly Edwards.

That includes about 70 contract and temporary workers and about 100 permanent employees. About 40 others have been identified for reassignment within the organization, Edwards said.

The company also is working to identify opportunities to retain as many of the 100 permanent employees as it can where the skills match up, she said.

“We’re working to try to find opportunities internally so we can retain as many of those as possible,” Edwards said.

They include union-represented and nonrepresented workers.

Employees will know by the end of June whether they will have an opportunity to stay with the company or whether they will be laid off, Edwards said.

In Mexico, the action will affect about 50 contractors and temporary employees. About 200 permanent employees there will be reassigned to other programs.

The Wichita and Mexico sites had a workforce based on a plan for the Learjet 85 to enter service this year.

But that time frame has changed with delays in the program.

Based on the current stage of the program, “we made a measured decision to adjust the workforce,” Edwards said.

The action is temporary, she said.

“The plan is we will reassign as many as possible so when we ramp up production (on the Learjet 85), we can bring those employees over in the 85 program,” she said.

The Learjet 85, Learjet’s largest business jet, flew for the first time in April, four months behind a revised schedule announced last year.

A series of delays connected to systems integration issues, including software updates, initially prevented the plane from flying.

The first flight was hailed as successful, the company said.

The company is waiting to give an update on when to expect the first delivery of the Learjet 85 until it sees how the airplane behaves and performs.

“We have to put a solid plan (together) internally,” Bombardier business aircraft president Eric Martel told The Eagle last month.

He did not say when to expect a decision. When a date is announced, “we want to make sure we go out with a precise date,” Martel said at the time.

The Learjet 85 was originally scheduled to enter service in late 2013, but early last year, the company pushed the date to summer 2014.

Bombardier, based in Montreal, announced the clean-sheet design business jet in October 2007.

The Learjet 85 fits between the midsize and super-midsize segments of the business jet market and seats up to eight passengers, with a flight crew of two. It has a range of roughly 3,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 541 mph.

It also is the company’s first Learjet with a composite fuselage and wings.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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