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Fri, Oct 26, 2007

Hawker Beechcraft Opens Facility in Mexico

Site Manufactures Light Sheet Metal Material

On Thursday, Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) officially opened its new aerospace manufacturing facility in Chihuahua, Mexico. HBC’s Chihuahua Operation has established an aerospace light sheet-metal assembly facility in Chihuahua to enhance its competitive position in the world market and develop a reliable supply base to support the current and future needs of its Wichita facility.

The operation will initially employ up to 250 local technicians and staff with growth opportunities for 650 employees in the next five years. Federal dignitaries, Chihuahua’s State Governor Jose Reyes Baeza and Hawker Beechcraft senior leaders celebrated with an inauguration ceremony at the new facility.

"We are increasing our manufacturing footprint to meet current demand and aggressive growth plans," said Jim Schuster, chairman and CEO of Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. "This facility opening joins other examples of recent expansion and renovations in Little Rock, AR, the United Kingdom and Wichita, KS; the opening of a new service center in India; and our increased international sales presence."

The HBC Chihuahua facility will support current and projected workforce needs and also alleviate space constraints at HBC’s US-based manufacturing facilities. The company’s Wichita, Salina and Little Rock facilities are all growing. There are currently more than 200 open hourly requisitions and more than 500 overall requisitions that need to be filled.

Mexico, and Chihuahua in particular, has become an aviation hub for many of the largest manufacturers in the industry, including Cessna, Bombardier, Gulfstream, Honeywell, Goodrich and many more.

Representatives with HBC say the new facility will also strengthen HBC’s presence in Mexico, where the company already has a wire-harness manufacturing facility with Labinal, a very strong dealer (Aerolíneas Ejecutivas) and service center/fixed-base operation. Mexico has traditionally been a strong market for Hawker and Beechcraft products. There are roughly 750 business-turbine aircraft operating in the country, 168 (or 22 percent) of which are HBC aircraft.

An important factor in selecting Chihuahua was the ability to train specialized operators for the aerospace industry through the High Technology Training Center CENALTEC Campus Chihuahua, a unique training center in Mexico for machining, sheet metal, painting and other techniques and processes that not only prepares specialized technicians, but also certifies them. HBC Chihuahua recently graduated its first training class of 30 employees.

"The facility will be one of the most advanced light sheet-metal assembly operations in the aerospace industry," said Jose Reyes Baeza, Chihuahua State Governor. "Chihuahua was chosen because of its strategic geographical location, the quality and stability of the labor market and the availability of local suppliers, among others."

FMI: www.hawkerbeechcraft.com

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