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Boeing suspends production of Chinook, Osprey military rotorcraft due to coronavirus

Pennsylvania Soldiers with Bravo and Delta Company, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, received a mobilization order for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and is scheduled to deploy in late 2019. (Capt. Travis Mueller/Pennsylvania Army National Guard)
April 03, 2020

Boeing said late Thursday it will temporarily suspend operations starting Friday evening at the Philadelphia-area facility where it produces the H-47 Chinook and V-22 Osprey military rotorcraft. The site also conducts defense and commercial services work and engineering design activities.

The company said the two-week closure will “ensure the well-being of employees, their families and local communities, and will include an orderly shutdown consistent with requirements of U.S. and global defense customers.”

The Ridley Park plant employs more than 4,600 workers, about one third of them on the rotorcraft assembly lines, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In a statement, Boeing said it will conduct “additional deep cleaning activities at buildings across the site and establish rigorous criteria for return to work,” which is scheduled for April 20. The company said it will continue to monitor government guidance around containing the spread of COVID-19 infections.

“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,” said Steve Parker, Vertical Lift vice president and general manager, and Philadelphia site senior executive.

Philadelphia-area employees who can work from home will continue to do so. Those who cannot work remotely will receive paid leave for the 10 working days – double the normal company policy, according to Boeing.

At Boeing Commercial Airplanes plants in the Seattle area, operations are scheduled to resume April 8 after a two-week shutdown that followed a string of COVID-19 infections among workers.


© 2020 The Seattle Times