RIDLEY PARK, Pa. (AP) — An order of 14 new Chinook helicopters by Britain's Royal Air Force could mean more work at the Boeing Co.'s factory in suburban Philadelphia.
Chris Owens, president of Boeing's United Aerospace Workers Union Local 1069, told the Delaware County Times that the order could mean work for as many as 100 new employees.
He said he had no official word from Boeing, but he expects most new employees would be sheet metal workers and aircraft technicians.
"This is really great news for us," Owens told the newspaper Monday. "We're probably one of the luckiest companies right now in the Delaware Valley region."
Boeing said in a statement Monday that the aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2013 through 2015 from the recently renovated Ridley Park factory. Spokesman Tom Marinucci said Tuesday he could not comment on whether Boeing would hire new workers to fulfill the contract, but he echoed Owens in calling the contract "great news" for the 6,000-plus workers at the factory.
The factory is the only one where Boeing makes the Chinooks, producing more than 40 last year, Marinucci said. It also makes fuselages for the V-22 Osprey aircraft.
The $1.6 billion Chinook contract will bring Britain's fleet of the heavy-lifting helicopters to 60, the largest in Europe. The contract includes development, building and five years of support.
The helicopters have played a major role transporting troops and equipment in Afghanistan, where Britain has some 9,000 troops.
Boeing is a leading manufacturer of commercial airplanes and defense, space and security systems.