Ten years ago, Airbus appeared on the Wichita, Kansas aviation scene with the opening of its first U.S. engineering center in the city’s Old Town section. A decade later, Airbus’ operation in Wichita has grown by more than 600%, 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 are gathering 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 ten 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.”
Mike Pompeo, Congressman representing the 4th District of Kansas, 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’s 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."
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 Governor 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.”