Ten years ago, Airbus appeared on the Wichita aviation scene with the opening of its first U.S. engineering center in a beautiful location in the city’s Old Town section. A decade later, Airbus’ operation in Wichita has grown by more than 600 percent, and the company’s role in the local aerospace community and its commitment to the city continue to grow at an equally strong pace.
Airbus employees, members of Wichita community, fellow aerospace companies and elected officials gathered at the Airbus Engineering Center in Old Town today to commemorate the company‘s 10th anniversary in the city. As the company celebrates the growth and accomplishments of the past 10 years, Airbus also is looking to the future with the launch announcement of an Airbus Foundation mentoring partnership with the United Way of the Plains in Wichita.
The company’s first engineering and design facility outside of Europe, the Airbus Engineering Center in Wichita was opened formally on June 10, 2002, as home to approximately 30 engineers dedicated to wing design for the Airbus A380 aircraft. Today, the company has expanded into a second facility in Old Town, and more than 350 engineers are focused on design and stress work for wings and fuselages on all new and existing models of Airbus aircraft.
Allan McArtor, Chairman of Airbus Americas, was on hand to lead the celebrations. “Ten years ago, we chose to build our first U.S. engineering center in Wichita because the talent pool of aerospace and aviation experts in this city was amongst the richest in the world. I’m glad to say that hasn’t changed. Our wise investment has paid off and the city remains a rich center of aviation expertise which is recognized globally within Airbus and certainly worldwide everywhere. We are very proud to call Wichita home and to be a part of this community.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo said, “Airbus has established itself as an integral part of the Air Capital of the World. Over the past 10 years, I have been profoundly impressed with the dedication and commitment of Airbus to the Wichita community. Its investment in our local economy continues to provide good-paying jobs for hundreds of Kansans. Airbus’ continued growth in the region further testifies to the fact that south central Kansas has the best aviation workforce in the world. I look forward to the strong relationship between Airbus and Kansas enduring well into the future.”
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer was also present and presented a city proclamation naming June 11, 2012, Airbus Day in Wichita. He said, “Airbus – like the early aviation pioneers – recognized Wichita's promise, and has built on it, here in the Air Capital. Together, we continue to gain altitude.”
To ensure aerospace’s future in the city, the company announced its charitable arm, the Airbus Corporate Foundation will work with the United Way of the Plains in Wichita to sponsor an educational and mentoring program called the Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge. This program, valued at up to $250,000, will connect employees from Airbus and engineering students from Wichita State University with middle-school aged at-risk children in the community. Airbus and WSU mentors will inspire the students to stay in school, improve their studies, and consider a career path towards engineering.
Barry Eccleston, President and CEO-Airbus Americas and a member of the Airbus Corporate Foundation board said, “I’m proud to take this occasion of celebrating our past to look forward to our future. Through this partnership Airbus is investing in Wichita’s aerospace future. We need to show our youth what science, math, engineering and technical skills can do: it can make airplanes fly, cars that get 50+ miles per gallon, satellites that go to space, and more.”
“I want to congratulate Airbus on 10 years of growth and innovation in Wichita,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. “I look forward to working with Airbus in the next decade to come. The company’s $250,000 contribution to United Way of the Plains to sponsor a school program that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math is commendable and will help excite and inspire kids to enter science and engineering based professions as adults.”
Pat Hanrahan, President-United Way of the Plains, said, “Improving the lives of children and building community knows no boundaries. In Wichita, four out of 10 students will drop out of school each year. Through this partnership with United Way, Airbus engineering mentors will give kids the chance to see aircraft careers up close and personal, which will hopefully motivate students to stay in school and excel in math and science, which can lead to great jobs in engineering and other well-paid fields. United Way of the Plains is proud Airbus has chosen our community to initiate this program in the United States and continuing the company’s 10-year history of generosity in Wichita.”
“Efforts like these with Airbus prime the pump by using WSU College of Engineering students and Airbus engineers to work with middle school students to share their interest in math, science and engineering. This is a key approach in achieving President Obama's goal toward one million STEM graduates and Brownback's goal of a 60 percent increase in the number of Kansas Engineering graduates,” said Zulma Toro-Ramos, Dean of the College of Engineering at Wichita State University.
John Allison, Superintendant of USD 259 in Wichita, said, “We are very appreciative of Airbus’ support. Brooks Technology and Arts Magnet students will greatly benefit by getting one-on-one interaction with Airbus employees. This will help show our students that what they are learning now in the classroom are skills they will need when they enter the workforce. Airbus is a tremendous community partner and has made an investment in not only in our students’ future, but in Wichita’s future.”
Airbus manufactures the most modern and eco-efficient family of airliners available, ranging from 100 to over 500 seats. At its facilities in Wichita and Mobile, Ala., Airbus Americas Engineering helps engineer the entire product line. Additionally, Airbus supports, trains and sells to customers in the Americas from its centers in suburban Washington, D.C., and Miami. Airbus has spent more than $127 billion in the United States since 1990 – more than half that in the last six years – with hundreds of American suppliers in more than 40 states.