WASHINGTON — Textron Aviation is furloughing more than 7,000 workers in the hopes of containing the spread of coronavirus, the company announced Wednesday.

Textron Aviation mostly produces commercial business jets, turboprops and piston-engine aircraft through its Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands. However, it also produces a number of military-specific aircraft, such as the Beechcraft T-6 Texan trainer used for basic pilot training by the U.S. Air Force and the AT-6 Wolverine, a weaponized version of that aircraft, and the Scorpion jet.

News of the furlough was first reported by The Wichita Eagle, which also detailed number of workers slated to lose work. Textron has declined to specify how many workers will be furloughed or the functional areas of the business that will be impacted.

Textron Aviation spokeswoman Sarah White said support for contracts would move forward, though with few details. The Air Force on Monday awarded Textron Aviation a $70 million contract for two AT-6 planes, training and support. That aircraft is manufactured at its plant in Wichita, Kan.

“We are abiding by the requirements established by the DoD and our partner nations, as well as the protocols implemented across U.S. and customer bases worldwide,” she said in a written statement to Defense News. “We will continue to support our Defense customers according to our funded contract requirements.”

More generally speaking, the furlough “will allow us to do our part in mitigating and containing the spread of the COVID-19 through social distancing, while continuing to support our customers,” White said. The company is also “limiting large group meetings, increasing daily cleaning of its facilities, restricting travel, and cancelling our participation in several global meetings and events” in response to the pandemic.

The furlough will last from March 23 until May 29, but each impacted employees will only lose four weeks of work, she said.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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