Boeing [BA] has halted work at its production facility outside of Philadelphia, where it manufactures aircraft such as the H-47 Chinook heavy-lift aircraft, the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter, due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the area.
The plant in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania is closed through April 20 while the company conducts a deep cleaning of the site and establishes criteria to allow employees to safely return to work.
“Suspending operations at our vital military rotorcraft facilities is a serious step, but a necessary one for the health and safety of our employees and their communities,” Steve Parker, Boeing’s vice president for vertical lift, said in a statement. “We’re working closely with government and public health officials in the tri-state region. We’re also in contact with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders affected by this temporary suspension as we assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Last August, Boeing opened a $115 million new facility at its Ridley Township site that serves as the home for the Marine Corps’ Common Configuration – Readiness and Modernization program to improve readiness of V-22’s by upgrading platforms to a common Block C configuration (Defense Daily, Aug. 1 2019).
Bruce Jette, the Army’s top acquisition official, told reporters on Friday the Army, which is a CH-47 customer, is supportive of Boeing’s decision to shut down the plant to ensure the safety of its employees and that the service was not concerned with any potential delays to deliveries.
“We’re very supportive and we appreciate the caring concern for their workforce,” Jette said. “They said they think we can make up the difference in a relatively short amount of time.”
The company said Philadelphia-area employees who are able to work from home will do so, while those who are unable to telework will receive paid leave for 10 working days.
Boeing previously announced a two-week production pause at its Puget Sound area facilities, where it builds several aircraft including its 777 and 787 widebody planes and the Air Force’s KC-46 tanker and Navy P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, due to a state of emergency declared in Washington state (Defense Daily, March 23).
Dave Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, said on Thursday the company will offer a voluntary layoff (VLO) plan to eligible employees to minimize the need for additional workforce actions in response to current challenging conditions in the commercial aircraft market (Defense Daily, April 2).