Moving production lines outside the U.S. to countries where the cost of manufacturing is lower is a thorny and complicated subject, as well as a practice that has been going on for more than a half century and affecting numerous industries. But now, as the unemployment level in the U.S. continues to hover around 10 percent, with little relief in sight for the near future, some aircraft manufacturers are taking heat as they continue and even accelerate the shift of their production lines outside the U.S.
Gulfstream is in an unusual position among business aircraft manufacturers regarding offshore manufacturing in that production of its mid-size jets–the G150, G200 and G250–has always be done by Israel Aircraft Industries in Tel Aviv, Israel. Of course, that’s because the models were derived from jets that IAI itself developed and certified. Gulfstream now holds the type certificates for the G150 and G200, and will hold the G250’s type certificate when obtained. Gulfstream was also intimately involved in the development of the G150 and G250, and in upgrades of the G200. However, there are no plans to move production of any of the IAI-born models anywhere else, said Larry Flynn, Gulfstream senior vice president, marketing and sales.
Gulfstream currently has one other production facility outside the U.S, in Mexicali, Mexico, which it acquired in 1986 along with its purchase of a facility in Long Beach, Calif. The Mexicali facility produces wiring harnesses, small subassemblies and some machined parts. It has about 1,000 employees and has slowly grown over the years as the Gulfstream aircraft production rates grew.
But there won’t be any shifting of Gulfstream production to anywhere else, Flynn claimed. “We have an incredible workforce that we cherish,” he said. “We have no need to shift anything outside our current workforce. And we have told them that. Right now we are very satisfied with our supplier base.”