Columbia Reshuffles Production Line

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Out in Oregon, Columbia Aircraft is working to rebalance its production line as it regroups following last June's hailstorm, and the process could result in some workers seeing a cut in hours over the next month or two, Vice President Ron Wright told AVweb on Tuesday. When about 20 percent of the crew was redeployed to repair the 66 airplanes damaged by hail, the production line got out of balance, Wright said. "We ended up with not enough of some parts, and too many of others." With the hail repairs complete, managers have been working to redeploy workers and get back to building five to six aircraft a week, after cutting back to four. But there are limits to that strategy, Wright said, because the workers all have different skills and are not interchangeable. The final details are still being worked out, but he hopes that just a "handful" of workers will be affected, and none will be cut back more than eight hours a week. The production line should be back in balance in six weeks or less, he said. Meanwhile, the affected workers can collect unemployment benefits, which will partially make up for their losses.