C-17 aircarft

Boeing is planning to end the C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft production about three months earlier than its initial estimate for late 2015.

The aerospace giant cites current market trends and the timing of expected orders as the reason to shutter the 1.1m ft² Long Beach production line in mid-2015.

Boeing spokeswoman Cindy Anderson was quoted by Reuters as saying that the closure affects around 2,200 workers in Long Beach, 300 workers each in St. Louis and Macon, and approximately 200 employees in Mesa, Arizona.

"Based on current market trends and the timing of expected orders… we have decided to build three fewer aircraft in 2015," Anderson said.

The early closure is expected to enable the company to post $50m in accounting charges in the first quarter.

Boeing first announced plans to shut down line the C-17 facility in September 2013, after completing production of final 22 aircraft, citing shrinking defence spending worldwide and US budget sequestration.

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Having delivered five planes, the company now plans to build ten and seven airlifters in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

"The early closure is expected to enable the company to post $50m in accounting charges in the first quarter."

The company had also promised employee assistance, including job search resources and financial counselling during workforce reductions, which are expected to be completed by mid-2015.

Anderson said the workers are being offered jobs at other Boeing facilities and noted that the number of required layoffs will also be reduced by retirement and attrition.

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.

Of the total 262 C-17s delivered to date by Boeing, 223 went to the US Air Force, while the remaining are operated by Kuwait, Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the UAE, the UK and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of Nato and Partnership for Peace nations.

Image: Three USAF C-17 Globemaster III aircraft stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, US. Photo: courtesy of USAFTech. Sgt. Mike Buytas (Released).

Defence Technology