Officials Look To Future Of Aviation Industry In Wichita

By: Natasha Trelfa Email
By: Natasha Trelfa Email

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Aircraft industry officials say there's no way to deny this year is going to be brutal. They also say, however, that one key to coming out stronger in the long run is going to be having the proper training for future workers.

"We can not let the aviation industry follow the same path as the auto industry," explains Dan Dymarkowski, who is the director of labor relations for Hawker Beechcraft.

As Wichita braces for hundreds, possibly thousands of layoffs in the aviation industry, industry officials spoke with lawmakers about just what it will take to make sure the Air Capital positions itself to bounce back.

"Aviation is cyclical and, unfortunately, we are in a down cycle. We want to put conditions in place so we can recover and get on an up cycle as soon as possible," says Rep. Raj Goyle, (D) Wichita.

Surviving the economic turbulence will involve investing further in research and training. The insiders say, with facilities such as the National Institute For Aviation Research and the National Center For Aviation Training set to open next year, the chance to stay ahead of the international technological race and train potential workers is prime.

"The fact that they have that right here in Wichita, Kansas, is tremendous and it's a great benefit to the industry and other industries," said David Brant, who's the senior vice president of engineering for Cessna Aircraft.

They said they don't want to revisit the situation following 9/11 where officials said they struggled to find trained workers. They also don't want to lose Wichita's workforce to other cities.

"This is a Honda jet. I thought Honda made cars. This is a full page add in the Wichita Eagle advertising hiring to go to North Carolina," said Dymarkowski.

Officials are asking state leaders for $5 million a year and reminding them that one aviation job creates three non-industry jobs and delivers more than $2 billion in payroll. It's a situation lawmakers say is just one more thing they'll have to balance as they head into one of the most difficult sessions ever.

"It can take decades to build this industry, but just a few years to destroy it," Goyle.

While layoffs are still a reality, for now aircraft representatives say as the industry rebounds they expect there will be a need for at least 20,000 workers over the next 10 years. Those numbers would help cover retiring workers and future growth.


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