Chihuahua becoming aerospace center

August 26, 2010

You’ve seen news stories from time to time about aviation manufacturers who are moving jobs to Mexico. Specifically, many of the jobs go to Chihuahua, Mexico, a booming new center for aerospace where Cessna Aircraft Co. opened a fourth building at its single plant in June. They aren’t alone.

Honeywell Aerospace, Labinal, Zodiac, Lockheed Martin, Hawker Beechcraft, SGI Electroswitch Corp., FMC Technologies, Capsonic Aerospace, and Cambrian Industries all have facilities there. The state of Chihuahua has 20 percent of Mexico’s aerospace jobs. Textron’s two facilities in Mexico are Textron International Mexico, which does Bell commercial production work, and Cessna.

Mexico officials believe in a few years complete small aircraft will be assembled in the country. Chihuahua, long an automotive industry processes and parts manufacturing center, is supporting its move into aerospace with training at state universities in coordination with New Mexico State University and at a training center in Chihuahua City and Juárez called Cenaltec.

The value of the project involving the fourth building is $67 million, although that is not a direct cash outlay by Cessna. Cessna could not divulge financial details of the project. Cessna has about 550 people there now and expects to add 200 to 300 over the next year or so.

Cessna already produces wire harnesses, metal structures, and composite components at the site. The fourth building will add additional structural component work. Cessna had already moved composite fabrication work there for the Corvalis prior to the new building. Final assembly of the Corvalis remains in Independence, Kan.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

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.