Company Anticipates Nationwide Search For Qualified
To fulfill its new assignment, Airbus Wichita is going to have
to hire at least 75 additional engineers between now and early
2008. Airbus has shifted responsibility of the entire wing design
of the A380 to its Wichita, KS, engineering shop, according to the
Wichita Business Journal.
"When there's going to be a major modification to the A380, and
there will be a derivative to it, it will be our folks that will be
talked to about how do you redesign the wing," says John O'Leary,
Wichita site manager for Airbus North America Engineering Inc.
It will take a nationwide search to fill those engineer slots,
The new work will monopolize 75 percent of the facility's
workload -- which, until now, had been limited to wing sections of
other Airbus aircraft. The rest will be concentrating on research
and development of design principles applying to composite
materials for the A350 XWB.
"That is really great for the city of Wichita," says Mayor Carl
Brewer. "We have the skilled labor here and Wichita State is one of
the finest engineering schools. I think they're going to be able
find their engineers."
"We have a lot of students that work in research labs or work
for faculty," says Scott Miller, chairman of the aerospace
engineering department at Wichita State University.
"Some of them even look like they've been working for two years
by the time they graduate."
Design work on the A380 was the main reason Airbus even opened
the Wichita facility five years ago.
"Had we taken this on five years ago, I think it would have been
a tremendous challenge," O'Leary says. "But as we've worked through
those other projects, we've established a way of working such that
we know how to communicate 4,500 miles away."
The first superjumbo is scheduled for delivery to Singapore
Airlines later this year.
"We are on track with our production and confident that we are
going to meet all of our commitments," says Clay McConnell,
spokesman for Airbus North America.
One industry analyst feels Airbus Wichita should shift its focus
to the A350 -- and quickly.
"As a percent of the market, the A380 is a sideshow," says
Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst with the Teal Group, an
aerospace and defense consulting firm. "Since the A380 was launched
... it's gotten 160-something orders. In the meantime there have
been about 2,000 orders for smaller aircraft for the market that
the A350 plays in."