Wichita Boeing Co. is planning to hire hundreds of engineers at its Wichita plant to work on the company's new 7E7 jetliner and on a Navy program to adapt 737 aircraft for use as reconnaissance planes, according to an internal memo obtained by The Wichita Eagle.
The Wichita plant will hire more than 460 engineers through the end of next year, the memo says. They'll be hired directly and through contracts with engineering firms, Boeing spokesman Dick Ziegler said.
Eighty-five of the new hires will be added by the end of this year, Bob Waner, Boeing vice president for engineering, said in the memo.
It's the second positive employment news at the plant in less than a month. Less than three weeks ago, Boeing officials confirmed plans for the Wichita facility to rehire about 200 laid-off production workers as the company increases production on the 737.
Waner said the need for engineers would exist even if Boeing sold its Wichita commercial airline facilities.
Waner acknowledged in the memo that the company was seeking a buyer for the operation, but "whether we are sold or stay with Boeing, we have a tremendous base of committed work and opportunities for growth."
The Wichita plant will build the flight deck and forward fuselage section for the 7E7. Last month, officials at the plant received a formal "statement of work" to integrate the nose landing gear into the former fuselage, according to the memo.
The company also recently won a long-term contract with the Navy to build "multimission aircraft" based on the 737.
Bob Brewer, Midwest director for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which represents Boeing engineers, said the planned increase in engineers was good for Wichita.
"The 737 rates are going up, 7E7 is coming on board," Brewer said. "There's a lot of good things right now."