August 2016 Column: Aerospace in Alabama
Aerospace in Alabama stands for high level jobs, a thriving industry, advanced technology and dynamic innovation.
The aerospace industry is not new to Alabama as it began over one hundred years ago with the Wright Brothers’ flight school in Montgomery and Werner Von Braun’s rockets facilities in Huntsville that took America to the moon. The long, distinguished history in our State has put Alabama on the map. We are now home to 400 aerospace companies from 30 different countries with over 83,000 employed in the industry.
At the recent Aerospace States Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, I had the opportunity to attend the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The EAA Airshow is the largest airshow in the world, attracting more than 500,000 people and 10,000 airplanes. It was refreshing to see the Auburn University Aviation Program represented, as well as a number of Alabama companies.
This week I will attend the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s (AUVSI) Pathfinder Chapter’s Symposium in Huntsville. The AUVSI Pathfinder Chapter is the oldest and largest chapter in the country dedicated to the advancement of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The AUVSI and ASA recently signed a memorandum of understanding to help transform the national economy with UAS.
UAS, also known as drones, are a phenomenon that are currently used by individuals, companies, military, law enforcement, farmers, utilities and real estate professionals to name a few. Although they can be disruptive technology, we must continue to promote innovation, development and advancement for utilization. Efforts are currently in place to create a sustainable climate in Alabama for UAS.
The aerospace industry in Alabama is thriving and growing. Our growth can be attributed to the recruitment of aerospace and defense companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Raytheon. The Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center are also key assets to our State. The work done at the Marshall Flight Center on the next generation vehicle to explore deep space, Space Launch System (SLS), will take our nation to Mars and new heights. The SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket. Aerospace in Alabama is on the move.