It's not obvious on the surface, but rest assured, there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes as economic development officials and companies work to grab a piece of the Airbus pie.
Aerospace suppliers in Washington state and Kansas hope to benefit from the Airbus decision to place an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala. And in this region, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida officials are working to leverage this watershed event.
Consider this: Airbus wants to double the $12 billion it spends with U.S. suppliers over the next 10 years. That's according to Airbus officials who attended the Air Capital Supplier Summit in Wichita, Kan., where Airbus has an engineering center. Airbus earlier had been in Washington, Boeing’s home turf, also looking for suppliers. (Post)
Make no mistake about it. The Airbus decision is huge on many levels. It's big for Mobile, it's big Alabama, and it's big for the Gulf Coast region and future generations of workers. It's also big for suppliers and other foreign companies interested in entering the U.S. marketplace.
Mobile's successful recruitment of Airbus along with past efforts to attract foreign investments offers a playbook on how to create U.S. jobs. The United States is still the premier destination for international firms, but its lead is slipping.
A decade ago the United States attracted more than 40 percent of foreign investment, but today it's 18 percent, according to the Organization for International Investment. OFII president Nancy McLernon said in an interview with the Mobile Press-Register that the Airbus deal is an example of how the U.S. can regain its competitive edge. (Post)
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley apparently knows that landing the assembly plant isn't the end of the competition. Attracting suppliers is just as important. Bentley said Florida and Mississippi are racing to play host to companies that make up the jetliner's supply chain, and he has been chatting with company representatives since the Farnborough Airshow last month about coming to Alabama. (Post)
OK, while we’re on the subject of foreign investments, there's at least one foreign investment that won't happen after all. Vision Technologies Aerospace, the aerospace arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., halted its acquisition of Pemco's Tampa aerospace maintenance facility, after some closing conditions could not be fulfilled by the seller before the deadline. ST Engineering is the parent company of Mobile's ST Aerospace in Mobile, Ala. (Post)
Northrop Grumman has flown two Global Hawks in formation under its KQ-X program to develop a drone tanker for air-to-air refueling of drones. One aircraft was equipped with a belly-mounted refueling system, and though no fuel was transferred, it was an important step to demonstrate the feasibility. Unmanned systems, including Global Hawk, are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. The strange thing is, even though Mobile lost out on the Air Force tanker deal, drone tankers may one day be built in nearby Moss Point, Miss. (Post)
At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Air National Guard Maj. Jay Spohn on Aug. 3 flew his final of six flights to become the first Guard pilot to qualify as an F-35A instructor pilot at the multi-service, multi-national Integrated Training Center. Spohn, assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing, was selected in November of 2009 to be initial F-35A cadre and help pave the way by developing syllabus for flight training. (Post)
-- Over at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla., Hangar 1 is undergoing renovations to support the new 325th mission: a new operational F-22 Raptor squadron. The 325th is transitioning from Air Education and Training Command to Air Combat Command, and that requires modifying the hangar. It should be finished by October. (Post)
-- Also at Tyndall, Maj. Shawnn Martin assumed command of the 325th Maintenance Squadron during a change of command ceremony. Martin, previously commander of the 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, is replacing Maj. Andre Lecours. (Post)
-- In Panama City, Fla., the airport authority awarded the stormwater management system augmentation contract to Phoenix Construction of Lynn Haven. Phoenix submitted a bid of $3.219 million, lowest of five bids. (Post)
Lockheed Martin of Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a not-to-exceed $209.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract that provides for the manufacture and delivery of initial air vehicle spares in support of 32 F-35 low rate initial production Lot V air vehicles. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. … Sikorsky Support Services Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $39.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for logistics services and materials for maintenance to support 148 T-34, 54 T-44, and 178 T-6 aircraft based primarily at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; NAS Whiting Field, Fla.; and NAS Pensacola. Work is expected to be completed in December 2012. … Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $9.6 million modification to a previously awarded advanced acquisition contract. This modification includes work at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
Contract: BAE Systems said the Mobile, Ala., shipyard has picked up a contract from
Houston, Texas-based GulfMark Americas Inc., to build two platform supply vessels. The 288-foot-long vessels are expected to cost $48 million each. (Post)