How attractive are we?
The U.S. is the No. 1 nation and Florida second among states in their appeal to
aerospace manufacturers, but the study sheds no light on the appeal of the Gulf

David Tortorano
October 2016

Florida is ranked No. 2 in the nation in its appeal to aerospace manufacturers in the
most recent PwC Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness rankings, while Louisiana
is ranked 12, Alabama 13 and Mississippi 39.

The latest report, the third year for the ranking, was released July 2016 and shows
the United States remains the No. 1 nation as an attractive location for aerospace

According to PwC, part of the reason for the U.S. ranking is the breadth of its
aerospace industry - seven times greater than the United Kingdom, which is second
in industry size. Nos. 2-5 in the overall ranking is Canada, the United Kingdom,
Singapore and Switzerland.

Among the states, Arizona is No. 1 and Georgia No. 3, followed by Utah and Missouri.
PwC determines the overall rank based on a state’s tax burden, operating expense,
industry size and educational attainment. For Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi,
education dragged down their overall rank.

The PwC ranking does little to show the attractiveness of an economic region like the
Gulf Coast I-10 corridor. And because the numbers compiled for the PwC report are
for an entire state, they do not reflect the numbers for a specific area of a state.

But if the number of aerospace products that are made in an area is any reflection of
its attractiveness, then the Gulf Coast I-10 region would certainly seem to be a

Two years ago the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2014-2015, published by the Gulf
Coast Reporters’ League, had a chapter on aerospace products from in the region
between New Orleans and Northwest Florida, and it’s considerable. Satellite
propulsion systems, rocket engines, spacecraft, aircraft, aerostructures, high-tech
sensors and more are made in the region. And since PwC pointed out that the United
States ranks high in large part because of the size and diversity of its industry, it’s
instructive to point out the diversity in the corridor.

Here’s a rundown:

In New Orleans, Michoud Assembly Facility, one of the world’s largest manufacturing
centers with 43 acres under one roof, is where Boeing is building the 212-foot long
core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System. It’s also where Lockheed Martin builds
NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and composite structures for Sierra
Nevada’s Dream Chaser.

At Stennis Space Center (SSC), Miss., Lockheed Martin Mississippi Space and
Technology Center builds the core propulsion system for the A2100 family of
satellites, as well as the multi-layer blankets that protect the sensitive equipment..

Also at SSC, Aerojet Rocketdyne assembles and tests the RS-68, used on the Delta
IV rocket, and RS-25 that will power the SLS core stage. As part of the buildup for
testing, Aerojet is locating its RS-25 low pressure turbopump assembly at SSC.
Aerojet also announced in July that it will be assembling and testing the AR1 rocket
at SSC. That engine is designed to eliminate U.S. reliance on Russian RD-180s.

In the nearby town of Kiln, Miss., Teledyne’s Optech builds an airborne bathymetric
mapping system called the Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar at Stennis
International Airport.

Near Hattiesburg, Miss., GE Aviation makes composite parts for GE aircraft engines
and systems, including LEAP engine fan platforms, A320neo transcowls, and
Passport 20 inlets, used on the business jet engines.

In Moss Point, Miss., Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center does final
assembly work on the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter and central fuselage work on
all variants of the Global Hawk surveillance aircraft.

Across the state line in Mobile, Ala., the most high-profile aerospace manufacturer is
Airbus and the A320 jetliner plant. Ten have been delivered so far. Mobile is also
where Continental Motors has been building small engines for private aircraft since
1929, and where Star Aviation makes structural, electrical, in-flight entertainment
installation kits and more, for business and commercial jets. The company also
assembles wire harnesses, wire bundles, cable and electrical subassembly, and
equipment rack wiring.

Across the bay in Foley, Ala., Baldwin County’s largest manufacturing employer is
UTC Aerospace Systems, which, in addition to maintenance, repair and overhaul
services, is an original equipment manufacturer. It builds nacelle systems for
commercial and military aircraft engines, thrust reverser assembly for nacelle
systems for the Airbus A320 series aircraft and assembles the engine pod for Mobile’
s Airbus A320 assembly plant. It also does assembly of inlets and fan cowls for the
A320neo and Boeing 737NG, along with pylons and nacelle components for the Air
Force C-5M.

AMRO of Fairhope, Ala., is a precision machining and engineering company that
recently received its first 3D printer and will use that along with its traditional
machining techniques.

In Cantonment, Fla., Marianna Airmotive overhauls, remanufacturers and fabricates
parts for the C-5 Galaxy, and to the west in the town of Marianna, CHR International
produces the Safari 400 helicopter, which can be bought as a kit or assembled.

In Crestview, Fla., L-3 Aerospace Crestview makes major and minor airframe
structures for the commercial and defense industries, including tail booms, cargo
sections as well as cabins.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Niceville, Fla., does warhead
and alternative payload design, development, testing and production for air-to-air, air-
to-surface and surface-to-surface weapons, including shaped charge and
fragmenting warheads, fragmenting bombs, penetrators and flight termination

Multiple companies in Northwest Florida focus on avionics systems, including
transponders, instrument displays and more. In Gulf Breeze, Avalex makes flat panel
displays, digital mapping systems, digital video recorders, and other customized

Micro Systems of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., makes tracking transponders, GPS-
tracking pods, real-time micro processor-based control systems, unmanned vehicle
control stations, IFF products, test sets, scoring systems, and flight termination
systems. In the same city, BAE Systems produces instrumentation radar, electro
optics, system upgrades and enhancements, and training and launch range

Fort Walton Machining makes custom designed precision machined parts, and in the
same city Herco Sheet Metal does sheet metal and machining services to electronic,
defense and aerospace industries and Crane Aerospace manufactures low and high
voltage power products, TWT amplifier and radar transmitters.

In Holt, Certified Manufacturing produces cables and harnesses, circuit guard
assembly, harness over braiding, electro-mechanical assembly, and laser wire
marking. In Bonifay, Manown Engineering does machining of shafts and

In Panama City, Maritech Machine Inc. does precision machining and fabrication, and
Chenega Manufacturing Services LLC makes electro-mechanical wire harness
assembly, craft control units, power panels, instrument panels, and auxiliary power

Also in Panama City, Exelis makes mine detection equipment, like the MK-105
Minesweeping System and Airborne Mine Neutralization System, and in Tallahassee,
Capital Avionics manufactures test equipment.

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