The Airbus SAS A350 wide-body aircraft is a new plane that is expected to be test-flown next year. Airbus is a key component to the plan to build Ohio's aerospace industry.
COLUMBUS - Commercial jet manufacturer Airbus said Wednesday it wants to double the $12 billion it spends each year in the U.S. on aircraft components, and the company signed an agreement with local officials to establish a manufacturing training center in the Dayton area to help make that happen.
At the signing ceremony Wednesday in Columbus, officials for Airbus, Kettering's National Composite Center and the Dayton Development Coalition said they're committed to explore the creation of a hub that could grow Ohio industry and cultivate a new generation of highly trained workers.
No hard dollar figures were provided Wednesday about the agreement, the cost of a hub or who would pay for it, but Airbus Vice President of Procurement David Williams said Airbus intends to double its purchases from U.S. suppliers in eight or nine years. He said Airbus recognizes the advantages of doing business and developing relationships in the manufacturing-intense Miami Valley.
The new agreement is a big potential win for Ohio's aerospace industry. Airbus spent an estimated $4.9 billion in 2011 with Ohio companies, making Ohio its No. 1 supplier state. Airbus' U.S. spending totaled $12 billion last year, which represents about 42 percent of what the company spent worldwide, Williams said.
General Electric Aviation's Evendale plant is Airbus' largest Ohio supplier.
Composite Center President Lisa Novelli said the agreement sets a framework for local organizations to help Airbus expand its purchases in Ohio.
"We have determined we want to make sure Ohio's supply chain is prepared for this," she said. Novelli said decisions on establishing the hub could come within months. "For Airbus to want to work with us is a huge endorsement for this area."
It's a unique effort, Williams said, who added that he knows of no similar plans for a similar industry center in the U.S. or worldwide.
The agreement will remain confidential for now because it contains proprietary information about Airbus' business. But local officials are hopeful the effort makes Ohio's and Dayton's metal-working and composite industries stronger competitors.
At this stage, the hub is a concept, but a very ambitious one, said Williams, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who helped broker the agreement, and industry insiders involved in discussions. The agreement was signed at Ohio State University.
What is envisioned as the "Ohio Materials Manufacturing Technology Hub" would focus on worker training, but also could develop state-of-the-art materials processing, business analytics, and cultivate and grow the aerospace components supply chain, Brown said.
Williams said Airbus wants to capitalize on the movement to restore the manufacturing industry in the United States.
"We've heard the call to improve the U.S. competitive standing with regard to Asia," Williams said. "We've heard the call to restore manufacturing. The U.S. has a real competitive advantage in technology, and has to drive the competitive advantage and lead. This hub will do all of that."
Wednesday's agreement follows a January deal between Airbus and the composite center and a half-dozen companies to develop the next generation of advanced materials for new commercial aircraft, a five-year project valued at $1 million.
Jeff Hoagland, President & CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, expressed hope Wednesday about the hub.
"This announcement and commitment to the region by Airbus Americas is a testament to the concentrated aerospace supply chain that has been cultivated in the Dayton region and across the state of Ohio," Hoagland said. The impact of the partnership, he added, along with participation by local manufacturers, could be one of the region's most significant economic development collaborations and have lasting effects.
The plan would build on the state's aerospace industry, which the Ohio Aerospace Institute says supports 1,200 companies that employs 120,000 in Ohio.
"For many years we have benefited from the wealth of top-notch suppliers in Ohio, using quality made-in-America materials to enhance our aircraft," Allan McArtor, Airbus Americas chairman, said. "We look forward to further growing those working relationships and welcoming into our supply chain even more great Ohio companies."
Dayton city commissioner Nan Whaley, chairwoman of a regional manufacturing task force, said the agreement recognizes the area's aerospace strength. "Airbus sees our ability to innovate for the future," she said.
Representatives from key companies involved in Ohio's aerospace industry attended the ceremony, including Richard Koczera and David Miller from ADISCO Inc., a computer numerical control machining company at the composite center; Jim Kosmala, vice president of Engineering and Technology for Okuma America, the U.S. affiliate of Okuma Corporation, which produces advanced machine tools; and Erica Clayton Wright of global machine tool supplier Kennametal Inc., which employs 1,000 at four Ohio facilities-in Solon, Cleveland, Whitehouse, and Orwell.
Airbus is the aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of EADS, the European aerospace company. Located in France, Airbus is a major developer of commercial jet liners, including the A380 which is the largest commercial jet liner in the world.
Contact this reporter at 937-225-7407 or email Steve.Bennish@coxinc.com
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