After pushing out its final production Learjet 75 a few weeks ago, Bombardier announced at a ceremony today that the business jet OEM’s 1-million-sq-ft Wichita site will serve as the Montreal-based company’s U.S. headquarters and will be home to its newly named Bombardier Defense unit, which will be led by v-p Steve Patrick. In concert with the defense unit, Bombardier confirmed that it received additional firm orders for modified Global 6000s from the U.S. Air Force as part of a potential $465 million order for the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node program.
“We have a long history here,” Bombardier president and CEO Éric Martel said in an interview after the ceremony. “I would say also a lot of capabilities I think we have in Wichita, a very talented workforce who can do many things in the aerospace business. And I really mean it. When we did our strat[egic] plan at Bombardier we really wanted to preserve that and have a clear role for this group of people here who are extremely talented.”
Martel added that the company's defense business has a lot of growth potential, "so we wanted to make it official because most of the work is going to happen here."
As part of the changes to the Wichita site, v-p of Wichita operations Tonya Sudduth will remain at the site but assume a new role as head of U.S. strategy.
What isn’t affected by the changes is the company’s Wichita service center, which has grown from three hangars to seven in the past four years and provides maintenance for Bombardier’s Learjet, Challenger, and Global business jet lines. Also remaining is its flight-test center, which is currently handling flight testing of the Challenger 3500 and since its establishment has flight tested more than 30 new and derivative Bombardier aircraft including the CRJ and its variants as well as the Q400 and CL-415 water bomber.
Additionally, Bombardier is looking to fill 180 positions in Wichita across all operations and has nearly 500 job vacancies across the U.S. About 1,100 employees work at the Wichita site.