Boeing to shut California plant 3 months earlier than expected

Boeing Co. announced plans to stop production of C-17 cargo jets at the company’s sprawling Long Beach, Calif., plant three months earlier than it previously anticipated.

The aerospace giant said Monday it will shutter the 1.1-million-square-foot facility in mid-2015 because of “current market trends and the timing of expected orders.” The plane maker had initially said that production would come to an end in late 2015.

The company said it expects to record $50 million in accounting charges in the first quarter as a result of Monday’s announcement.

Boeing said about 2,200 employees support the C-17 Globemaster III program in California. The company already began workforce reductions this year and plans to continue the cuts through closure.

The C-17 Globemaster III is a massive, four-engine jet that can haul 60-ton tanks, troops and medical gear across continents and land on short runways.

The Air Force awarded the contract for the C-17 in 1981 as the United States faced potential military threats that required massive cargo lifts.

Design work soon followed, and the first C-17 to fly – known as T-1 – took off in 1991.

Boeing announced plans to close the plant in September, just a week after it delivered its 223rd and final C-17 to the Air Force. The company still has a few foreign orders to fill.

The plant is one of the last vestiges of an era in which aviation and aerospace helped build Southern California’s middle class, and it was a major employer in Long Beach for decades.

There are no plans to move a new production program to the plant.

Boeing has said some workers may be moved to other jobs inside the company, but many will have to enter a still-tough job market, with unemployment at 8.7 percent in Los Angeles County.

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