Aerospace Expansion Continues in Southeast, by Bill Stankiewicz, Savannah Supply Chain Guy
Savannah’s workforce talent pipeline includes a wide variety of job seekers and skilled laborers. Savannah has 10 times the national average of aerospace engineers and was ranked 5th by PricewaterhouseCoopers for aviation manufacturing talent.
Industry-Specific TrainingAerospace-related companies that do business in the Savannah area enjoy many advantages, among them access to workers with industry-specific training. Georgia is among the highest producers of aerospace graduates in the nation, and the Savannah area offers a number of educational options for those interested in careers in the field:
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Pooler campus offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, along with undergraduate certifications, in a number of industry-related fields.
- Savannah Technical College’s Aviation Technology Department offers programs of study in aircraft structures manufacture and repair, luxury craft cabinetmaking, and aircraft electrical equipment repair and installation.
- Savannah Tech’s new 30,000-square-foot Aviation Training Center features a 5,000-square-foot hangar, four labs designed and equipped for hands-on, instruction, and classrooms.
- Savannah College of Art and Design’s top-ranked industrial design program works with Gulfstream Aerospace, JCB, The Coca-Cola Company, Dell, General Electric and more to improve product design.
Savannah: The Aerospace Corridor of the SoutheastAerospace manufacturing has been a key industry in Savannah since Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation planted roots here in 1967. Today Gulfstream is the industry leader, producing the world’s most technologically advanced business-jet aircraft.
As the largest aerospace manufacturer in the Southeast, Gulfstream employs nearly 10,000 workers locally, but they aren’t the only ones calling Savannah home. More than 30 aerospace-related companies are located in Savannah, making the area a true aerospace supplier cluster. They are building another 500,000 sq feet too at the present time.
My contacts in Alabama are doing a great job in job growth for 2017-2018 & in 2-D PRINTING
Alabama is at the center of the 3-D printing revolution that promises to transform the way aerospace and aviation components are manufactured. Additive manufacturing, as the process is more commonly known in industrial circles, is the high-tech opposite of familiar techniques that involve taking a chunk of metal and machining it down to form a part. In the additive process, parts are formed by laying down successive layers of a powdery material. Often, these 3-D printed parts are cheaper and stronger. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has become a hub for the space agency’s additive manufacturing efforts. Engineers at the Huntsville facility this year 3-D printed a copper rocket part, while testing the limits of the technology in rocket engines.
Huntsville-based Dynetics and partner Aerojet Rocketdyne, meanwhile, are using additive manufacturing and other advances in an attempt to design, fabricate and test a new, cost-efficient U.S.-made rocket engine that is based on the famous F-1 engine that powered the Saturn V.
In Auburn, GE Aviation is making progress on a project that will see the company’s Alabama facility become the first to mass produce a part for jet propulsion system using additive manufacturing.
Alabama is playing a key role in ushering in a new age for aviation – the day of the drone. They’re more properly called unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial systems (UAV), but whatever you call them, these craft are poised to make a splash with many commercial uses in the future. Today, FAA rules place tight restrictions on the commercial use of unmanned systems, but the agency is working to change that with rules allowing more flights. To accelerate that process, it has set up a new UAS Center of Excellence that will be operated the Alliance for System Safety through Research Excellence (ASSURE). The University of Alabama in Huntsville, which has conducting unmanned system operations for years, is a core member of the group. In addition, Auburn University recently received permission to establish the first FAA-authorization to establish a flight school for commercial operators of unmanned systems. “People see this as a growth industry,” said Bill Hutto, director of the Auburn University Aviation Center, which is establishing the flight school. “We see this as something that is going to be important statewide.”
100 NEW JOBS IN ENTERPRISE
Altogether, Alabama landed 12 aerospace/defense projects in 2014, resulting in nearly 1,100 announced jobs and new capital investment topping $213 million, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce. One of those projects was in Enterprise, where Arista Aviation announced plans to invest $10.9 million to establish a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operation for helicopter work – a specialty in the Southeast Alabama aerospace cluster that’s centered around the Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker near Ozark. Arista, initially known as Alabama Aircraft Support, opened its hangar, overhaul shop and paint facility last fall and has been growing rapidly. The company has a multi-year U.S. Department of State contract to provide comprehensive maintenance service on the agency’s Huey II helicopters. It has a number of other key customers, including domestic and foreign military organizations.
“They just opened six months ago, and they are already up to 100 employees,” said Jonathan Tullos, executive director of the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp. in Enterprise. “It’s a state-of-the-art MRO facility, and we feel they’re a good fit for the community.” Tullos is part of a contingent of officials from Southeast Alabama who are attending the Paris Air Show to build relationships with industry figures and identify opportunities that could result in expansion or investment opportunities. Other communities and areas that will be represented at the show include Huntsville, Mobile and Baldwin County, Birmingham, Auburn-Opelika and Tuscaloosa. Georgia & Alabama on the move!