Airbus Americas CEO speaks highly of Wichita at October’s Wichita Aero Club Business Luncheon

October 24, 2011 10:18am

Airbus’ engineering work in Wichita is world renowned, according to Barry Eccleston, president and CEO, Airbus Americas. Eccleston spoke to a full house of over 200 people at this month’s Wichita Aero Club luncheon on Oct. 18 about the state of Airbus, its presence in the U.S. and the importance of Wichita to its growing success.

In stark contrast to the current state of the business aviation industry, the commercial airline industry is booming. While Airbus and Boeing share the marketplace, they each manufacture 500 aircraft per year—more than 25 percent less than the global demand. Eccleston attributes Airbus’ success in the economic downturn to its 4000 orders on backlog, equaling about eight years of continued production.

Historically, the airline business doubles every 15 years, and experts expect it to continue doing so. While Airbus buys around $10 billion of production equipment from the United States annually, it expects to double that supply spending by the year 2020. Currently, an Airbus aircraft is made of 40 percent American products from over 40 states. It could practically be called an American airplane, Eccleston said.

With its largest U.S. presence located in two downtown Wichita offices and its use of Spirit Aerosystems as a major supplier, Airbus’ presence in Wichita is apparent. More than 300 Wichita Airbus engineers are involved in wing and fuselage design as well as repairs on all existing and future models. Eccleston commended their work as the “best work anywhere in Airbus.”

“It’s where the engineers are,” Eccleston said. “If you want good aerospace engineers, they’re here in Wichita.”

While praising the work that occurs here, Eccleston emphasized that other states are in the running for Airbus’ business. With memories of some harsh, competitive rhetoric from members of the Kansas congressional delegation during the KC-46 tanker competition still fresh in his memory, he stressed the importance of a welcoming and proactive community. Tensions have since subsided, and Airbus in Wichita is now a growing entity.

“We are so proud to be here in Wichita, we’re proud of the story we have, and we’re proud of the work that our folks do in Wichita,” Eccleston said. “And we hope that you are also proud to have Airbus here.”