Supersonic jet manufacturer eyeing Mobile as possible plant site

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Aerion Corporation says they are considering the rising manufacturing hub of Mobile for a new American plant to produce parts for the state-of-the-art AS2 supersonic jet.

Nevada-based Aerion is a contractor with Airbus, the French aerospace firm which designed the AS2, which can travel faster than the speed of sound, rendering a normally 12-hour trans-Atlantic flight just three hours long.

An Aerion spokesperson, Jeff Miller, told CBS 5 in Mobile the firm is carefully considering its next plant location but that Alabama is very much in contention.

“We are really going to do our homework and identify the best candidate cities with the right kind of airport and infrastructure. I will say Mobile cannot be excluded,” said Miller.

“Mobile certainly has a number of attractive features, but it’s just too soon to start rating candidate cities,” Miller continued.

Local aviation and municipal officials in Mobile have been mum on the project.

“Any ongoing economic development project, we don’t comment one way or the other about it until a contract is signed,” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said Thursday. “We pursue everything that has to do with avionics right now…that’s really all I can say about that.”

A spokesperson for the city’s Brookley Aeroplex – which meets many of the company’s specifications, including aerospace infrastructure and proximity to water – offered a similar response to inquiries this week.

The aeroplex almost certainly would, however, benefit from an existing relationship with Airbus and related contractors within city limits.

Aerion says the will to announce their location in early 2016 and begin construction in 2018. Miller said if all goes well, Aerion will start test flights in 2021 and hopefully start producing jets in Alabama by 2023.

The plant would be a huge “get” for the local economy, recently buoyed by good regulatory and economic developments in the manufacturing sector.

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