Boeing is planning to complete C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft production and subsequently shut its final assembly facility in Long Beach, California, US, in 2015, citing ”very tough budget environments".
Announced a week after the final aircraft delivery to the US Air Force (USAF), the decision will impact around 3,000 employees supporting the C-17 production programme in Long Beach, Macon, Mesa and St. Louis.
Still under contract to manufacture 22 aircraft, the company will, however, continue after-delivery support for the global C-17 fleet, as part of the C-17 Globemaster III integrated sustainment programme (GISP) performance-based logistics (PBL) agreement.
Calling closure a very difficult but necessary decision, Boeing Defense, Space & Security president and chief executive officer, Dennis Muilenburg, said budgets cannot support additional C-17 procurements in the timing required to keep the facility open, even though the desire for the aircraft’s capabilities is high.
"What’s more, here in the United States the sequestration situation has created significant planning difficulties for our customers and the entire aerospace industry. Such uncertainty forces difficult decisions like this C-17 line closure,” Muilenburg added.
"We will continue to make tough but necessary decisions to drive affordability and preserve our ability to invest for the future."
Comprising of more than 650 suppliers in 44 states, the C-17 industrial team provides 20,000 jobs in support of the aircraft production.
With workforce reductions set to start in early 2014 and continue through to closure, Boeing has promised employee assistance, including job search resources and financial counselling.
Boeing vice president and C-17 programme manager Nan Bouchard said: "We recognise how closing the C-17 line will affect the lives of the men and women who work here, and we will do everything possible to assist our employees, their families and our community."
The C-17 has been a workhorse for a number of air forces worldwide, having logged more than 2.6 million flying hours in troop and cargo airlifts, humanitarian air drops and aeromedical missions since its first flight in September 1991.
Image: A C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft leaving Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, US. Photo courtesy of US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brett Clashman.