Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft and Diamond Announce More Layoffs in the Works

If there was any doubt that the current financial crisis is hitting general aviation hard, the latest round of announcements from manufacturers should reinforce the bad news. The new year will get off to a lousy start for some 2,000 employees at Cessna. In a memo to employees, company management announced a second round of layoffs, following the earlier announcement that 665 jobs were on the chopping block. The two rounds of cuts will pare the Cessna workforce by about 18 percent overall, spread across a total of 15,000 workers at plants in Wichita and Independence, Kansas, and Bend, Oregon. Two months' notices will be distributed starting in the next few weeks, with separations scheduled for March, according to Cessna Vice President Jim Walters. Cessna will also offer a voluntary layoff program.

Blaming the down economy, Hawker Beechcraft President James Schuster wrote in a memo to employees, "...we are forced to substantially decrease our 2009 production levels and take the painful step of reducing our workforce accordingly." Details of the layoffs are being finalized and no numbers were announced. Neither did Schuster indicate when the job losses would occur. HBC laid off close to 500 workers about two months ago, representing 5 percent of its workforce at that time.

And finally, citing a worsening economic environment, Diamond Aircraft announced this week it is reducing the number of workers at its location in London, Ontario, Canada, issuing furlough notices to 180 of its 684 employees, "to align with current inventory and sales." Saying he hopes to call back the furloughed employees as soon as possible, Diamond President Peter Maurer cited good news. "Fleet orders for the flight training market remain strong with stable demand for the DA20, over 50 DA40s on order for 2009 and a growing order book for the Lycoming-powered DA42 twin as well."