The Farnborough International Airshow is the global industry’s grand event in 2018, highlighted by thunderous aerial flyovers and mindboggling billion-dollar aircraft purchase announcements.
The airshow also represents an opportunity to showcase Alabama’s deep connections to the dynamic aerospace industry and to spot glimpses of developments that could shape the future of the sector in the state.
One them stood just off the runway at Farnborough – an Airbus A220 passenger jet.
The aircraft, developed by Canada’s Bombardier as the C Series, is expected to be produced at Airbus’ Alabama manufacturing facility through an alliance between the two companies.
No formal timeline has been announced, but officials of the two companies have said the investment to add a second assembly line for the A220 in Alabama will amount to $300 million. The line would create an estimated 400 jobs at the Mobile facility.
While at Farnborough, Gov. Kay Ivey and Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield met with Jeff Knittel, CEO of Airbus Americas, and Florent Massou, who heads the A220 program.
Not far away, another aircraft was on display that could one day be produced in Alabama – Leonardo’s T-100 jet trainer.
The plane is competing to become the U.S. Air Force’s next training platform for fighter pilots. If it’s selected, the T-100 would be manufactured at a new facility in Tuskegee that would provide a massive economic boost for the area.
A decision is expected later this summer.
Meanwhile, there were many other Alabama connections on view at Farnborough, including the state’s close ties to Boeing. The company’s 737 MAX aircraft, which is supported by a design center in Huntsville, flew at the air show.
Ivey and the Alabama team also talked with Raytheon executives about the company’s cyber security and missile defense programs. Raytheon produces its SM-3 and SM-6 missiles at a futuristic Huntsville factory.
Alabama’s contributions to GE Aviation and the LEAP engine were also on display at Farnborough.
The fuel-efficient LEAP engine, produced by a partnership that includes GE Aviation, was spotted on Boeing and Airbus aircraft. A 3-D printed fuel nozzle made by GE Aviation in Auburn is an important feature of the engine.
In addition, the engine features components made from ceramic matrix composites, or CMCs, unique materials that are ultra-lightweight and can withstand tremendous temperatures. GE recently opened a $200 million factory complex in Huntsville to produce the raw material for these CMCs.
Lockheed Martin, which has a large presence in Alabama, showed off a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, at a static display at Farnborough. The JASSM is produced at the company’s facility in Pike County.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.