February 12, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Lawmakers who targeted business jets as the enemy of the economy have contributed indirectly to a reduction in business aircraft orders and 8,000 layoffs worldwide, most of them in Wichita. Pratt and Whitney Canada is laying off 1,000 workers in coming months who were involved in making business jet engines.
The company had forecast it would make 5,000 engines in the coming year as recently as December but has reduced the forecast to less than 4,000 due to reductions in business jet orders. One of those reductions was made recently when Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandrit told the U.S. Congress this week he canceled an order for a Dassault Falcon 7X that was to replace two older models. It is powered by Pratt and Whitney engines.
Pandit apologized to a House committee for the order. He had previously announced it would continue to avoid millions of dollars in penalties.
“I would also like to say something about the airplane that was in the news. We did not adjust quickly enough to this new world, and I take personal responsibility for that mistake. In the end, I cancelled delivery. We need to do a better job of acknowledging and embracing the new realities. Let me be clear with the committee: I get the new reality and I will make sure Citi gets it as well,” Pandit said.
Layoffs in Wichita alone total 8,000, with 7,000 of those directly or closely related to business jet production. There are additional layoffs at Boeing Wichita and Cessna’s plant in Independence, Kan.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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