At the APM Container Terminal in downtown Mobile on Sunday, the first parts for the new Airbus A320 assembly line arrived. Local residents lined the streets as the parts paraded from the Port of Mobile to the Airbus facility at Brookley Field.
Just a few days prior to the ceremony, I was in France for the 2015 Paris Air Show. The Air Show is the premier aviation event in the world that brings thousands of companies, industry leaders, and elected officials together and allows companies to show off their latest products.
I traveled to the Air Show with a delegation from Alabama that included Sens. Shelby and Sessions, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, and economic development officials from across Southwest Alabama. Our top priority was to sell Alabama as a great place for new businesses to locate, and we had great success.
On the first day of the Air Show, Hutchinson Aerospace announced they would be opening an aerospace manufacturing center of excellence that would employ approximately 100 people. Hutchinson will provide a number of important repair and service functions for the new Airbus aircraft, but they also plan to expand their services beyond just Airbus.
Next, MAAS Aviation announced that they will build a $39 million aerospace paint facility in Mobile, creating 80 jobs. MAAS already has a separate paint facility that will do the paint work for all the Airbus planes, but this facility will allow the company to expand operations to other companies all across the southeast.
Towards the end of the air show, we received word that Messier-Bugatti-Dowty would be opening a facility in Mobile to do work on aircraft brake systems and landing gear. They will provide direct support to Airbus, but, like the other companies, they plan to expand operations to other companies.
While a lot of the media attention was focused on Airbus and the major announcements, I also spent a lot of time visiting with companies that are already located in our area like UTC Aerospace Systems in Foley, VT Aerospace in Mobile, and Muskogee Technology in Atmore.
VT Aerospace is a company based in Singapore that has been a catalyst to Mobile’s rise on the aviation scene. While I was at the Air Show, we announced the formation of a bipartisan Singapore Caucus to highlight the strong partnership between the United States and Singapore, and I specifically wanted to point out the impact Singapore-based companies are having in the United States.
I also had the opportunity to accompany the team from Muskogee Technology as they met with a prospective new customer. Muskogee is a wonderful success story of a home grown business that has really seen their operations expand due to Alabama’s rise in the aviation sector. They are owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and have been around for over twenty years. They are starting to get more involved with making parts and composites for the aviation industry, and they were really making a name for themselves at the air show.
There were some other big announcements from the air show as it related to aviation companies in North Alabama, and I expect that we will continue to hear good news based on the relationships we were able to build in Paris.
As the first parts arrived last weekend for the Airbus facility in Mobile, I again realized the immense potential our area has when it comes to the aviation industry. Our skilled workforce, strategic location, and favorable labor laws will continue to make Southwest Alabama a premier location for aviation businesses to locate. This is such an exciting time for our area.
Bradley Byrne is represents Alabama’s 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.