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Hawker Beechcraft Opens Second Mexican Plant

Wichita-based firm is investing $20 million in a 180,000-square-foot plant to do sheet metal assembly work and electrical assembly work.

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Hawker Beechcraft Corp. has opened a second plant in Mexico and expects its Mexican work force to balloon to 1,000 by the end of the year with the building of a third facility.

The Wichita-based firm is investing $20 million in a 180,000-square-foot plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, to do sheet metal assembly work for King Air turboprops and Hawker jets along with electrical assembly work.

"We have seen a high level of quality and craftsmanship coming out of the skilled work force in Chihuahua," Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture said during a conference call Thursday.

The Wichita Eagle reported Boisture declined to give details on the incentives the company will receive. He said the company has "great support" from the Mexican government, a key factor in its decision to expand there.

Hawker Beechcraft announced last year that it is closing two plants in Wichita and moving the work from there, along with King Air-related back shop operations, to outside suppliers and to Mexico.

"This new facility will absorb some of the sheet metal fabrication work that's moving out of these other, older facilities," Boisture said.

The company is also transferring about $25 million of work to outside suppliers across Kansas, although the work won't be done in Wichita, Boisture said.

Hawker Beechcraft opened its first facility in Chihuahua in 2007 to manufacture light sheet metal assembly. It currently has 400 workers at the two plants, and plans to expand that number to 1,000 when it opens its third facility.

"With the opening of its second plant in the city, Hawker Beechcraft reaffirms its commitment to the state of Chihuahua," Cesar Horacio Duarte Jaquez, governor of the state of Chihuahua, said in a statement.

A key factor in choosing Chihuahua was its High Technology Training Center CENALTEC Campus Chihuahua, a training center for machining, sheet metal, painting and other techniques and processes.

The burgeoning aviation hub in Mexico also includes plants for Honeywell, Goodrich, Cessna and Gulfstream.
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