Airbus once again has expanded its airframe design and engineering center in Wichita, Kansas, with this latest development providing much-needed workspace for employees hired over the past year to support on-going A320, A350 and A380 family program activities.
The facility – which opened during 2002 – previously increased its size in 2012 on the assumption that another 100 team members would be added. However, to fully-support Airbus developments such as the A320 Family’s fuel-saving Sharklet wingtip devices and A320neo (new engine option), the total number of new employees ended up surpassing the 150-count – necessitating additional space.
With this latest expansion, the Wichita design and engineering site’s floor space grows by 10,000 sq. ft., with the new area adding office and meeting space, and conference rooms with visual communication technology (VCT).
John O’Leary, Vice President of Engineering for Airbus Americas, underscored that the expansion was completed in an environmentally-friendly manner: rather than construct an entirely new building, an existing adjoining structure was repurposed and refurbished for the Wichita facility’s use.
O’Leary also highlighted the very close relationship Airbus has with Wichita and the state of Kansas. “Airbus is a very good company for giving back to the communities in which it lives and works, and the Wichita area has been very appreciative of everything our employees have done,” he added. Employee-led initiatives to “give back” to the community include involvement with the United Way, water drives for the Special Olympics and more.
Further demonstrating these close ties, the Wichita Chamber of Commerce awarded Airbus its 2013 “Over the Years” honor that recognizes a long-standing performance as good business citizens and major contributors to the area’s economic well-being.
With a workforce that now totals nearly 400 employees, Airbus’ Wichita facility is fully engaged with the Sharklets and A320neo activity – including engineering of the wing ribs, stringers and skins, which is completed in close coordination with Airbus UK. In addition, it supports A380 continuous product development, design work for side panels of the A350 XWB’s window belt, in-service repairs and more.