This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Textron Aviation began production this week of plastic face shields and cloth face masks for healthcare providers and its own employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. A team from its process engineering department began production of the items as a response to shortages of these supplies.
The Wichita airframer said it is collaborating with Wichita State University to manufacture face shields from optically clear PET film. They first tested and adapted the open-source design of the shields. Using the company’s large Gerber cutter, the process engineering team began producing them.
It also settled on mask production after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended cloth or fabric face coverings for people who are in public spaces. Textron expects to produce thousands of cloth face masks that it said can be laundered and reused. It hopes that will free up the more-effective N95 and surgical masks for medical staff and first responders. Over the past two weeks, the manufacturer of Beechcraft and Cessna airplanes has donated about 7,500 N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to healthcare providers and first responders locally and throughout Kansas.