With Airbus launching production of A320 Family passenger jets at a new $600 million manufacturing facility in Mobile, the capabilities of Alabama’s aerospace/aviation sector now span the industry spectrum. Activities including research and design, advanced materials production, rocket and missile assembly, flight training, and component manufacturing all take place in Alabama. Here’s a closer look:
- NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, which played a key role in developing the Saturn V rocket, is now designing the propulsion system for the Space Launch System, the largest rocket ever built.
- Boeing has had a significant presence in Alabama for more than 50 years, participating in key NASA and defense programs. It recently opened a research center in Huntsville focusing on key technologies.
- United Launch Alliance’s Decatur factory is the sole production source of the powerful Atlas V and Delta IV rockets that put critical satellites into orbit.
- GE Aviation is launching mass production of its first 3-D printed jet engine component in Auburn and is building two plants in Huntsville to produce raw materials for lightweight ceramic matrix parts.
- Raytheon and Lockheed Martin produce key missile systems at Alabama facilities.
- Toray operates one of largest carbon fiber production lines in the world in Decatur, producing material that ends up in both Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
- Fort Rucker in Southeast Alabama is the largest helicopter training center in the world.
The Airbus production center at Mobile Aeroplex adds a new dimension to Alabama’s established aerospace sector. The company’s first U.S. manufacturing facility is seen as a potent catalyst for growth, creating up to 1,000 direct jobs by 2018 and many others as suppliers and service providers set up operations nearby. The facility also makes Alabama one of only three states where large passenger jets are assembled, joining Washington and South Carolina.