It’s lights out for Garrett Santa Barbara facility

 - May 15, 2008, 10:23 AM

General Electric’s Garrett Santa Barbara completion center, opened in mid-1999 for the express purpose of outfitting Boeing Business Jets, is scheduled to close next month following a troubled three-year history.

The announcement last month by GE was described as part of a decision by the parent company “to adjust its business activities to the current market conditions.”

GE had previously been involved in negotiations for the sale of the facility at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, with the hope of closing a deal by year-end 2001. A GE spokesman said efforts to sell the facility had been abandoned and that the closure would commence following a 60-day notice required by the federal Warn Act.

GE is providing some 125 hourly and salaried employees with “severance and continued health benefits, as well as outplacement assistance, with the additional opportunity for applying for open positions at other Garrett facilities.”

BBJ Business a Struggle

Garrett Santa Barbara opened for business in June 1999 in leased facilities consisting of a main 130,000-sq-ft completion bay and two 40,000-sq-ft hangars. The facility was dedicated to BBJ completions and Garrett had expected that, at maximum capacity, Santa Barbara would turn out six to 10 of the bizjets a year. But like a number of completion centers authorized by Boeing at that time to provide BBJ interiors, the facility struggled unsuccessfully to meet delivery dates. By last summer only one BBJ had been delivered and two more were in various stages of completion, and all were well behind schedule. At that point, a decision was made to decline further BBJ contracts and refocus on a new contract with Bombardier to do Global Express completions.

The last BBJ was delivered by Santa Barbara in August, and at press time only two Global Expresses had been handed over to Bombardier for delivery to the owners. Two more Globals are scheduled for delivery before the facility closes.

The three remaining Bombardier business jets on the contract will be finished at The Jet Center, Santa Barbara’s sister completion facility in Van Nuys, Calif.

t seems likely that the Santa Barbara facility, which former v-p and general manager Dave Miller described as “requiring a large volume of work to be successful,” is a victim of the recession.