Safran Engineering Services, first Alabama Airbus supplier, marks opening in Mobile

Safran Engineering CEO Bruno Bernard speaks at grand opening (April 8, 2013)
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Arik Sokol

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MOBILE, Alabama –- The first Airbus supplier to land in Mobile Brookley Aeroplex, Safran Engineering Services, did some celebrating of its own today before the aviation giant staged a groundbreaking ceremony at the site where it will produce the A320 family of passenger jets.

 At a grand-opening ceremony this morning, Bruno Bernard, chief executive of Safran Engineering Services, said his firm wanted to place its new operation in close proximity to Airbus’ first U.S. manufacturing facility. The sentiment was cheered by Alabama officials courting Airbus suppliers to come to the state.

France-based Safran is a major aerospace company that works as a partner with Airbus and other industry players. Safran Engineering Services’ Mobile Brookley Aeroplex office is expected to employ 50 highly skilled workers – positions that Bernard said his firm can fill thanks to help of AIDT, Alabama’s top-rated worker training program.

With events like the Safran grand opening and Airbus groundbreaking on the same day, Bernard said Mobile and Alabama are creating the kind of moments that signify accelerate momentum in the aerospace industry. “It’s the work and the networking we do that will ultimately determine our success,” he said.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said the state’s economic development officials are working hard to persuade Airbus suppliers to establish operations in Airbus’ Alabama backyard. Last week, he signed legislation that is aimed to make it easier for Alabama recruiters to land suppliers as competition for the projects heats up with other states in the Gulf Coast region.

Governor Bentley said Alabama already is home to many international companies, so Airbus and Safran will be in good company.

“Alabama has the type of environment that attracts industries, and we are going to have a very pro-business approach … as we continue to work to attract business and suppliers, ” Governor Bentley said.

Governor Bentley said AIDT will be an important part of that effort. The agency has been preparing Alabama’s workforce since 1971 and has trained more than 550,000 workers for more than 3,100 companies since then, according to AIDT figures.

“AIDT – I can just talk about you all the time,” Governor Bentley said, addressing AIDT leaders at the Safran grand opening. “You are the best in the country in terms of what you do in worker training.”

Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas, told the crowd that Mobile is going to become an “epicenter” of activity in the aerospace industry in the wake of Airbus’ decision to assemble passenger jets at Mobile Brookley Aeroplex. Airbus will invest $600 million in the facility, which will employ as many as 1,000 workers. Another 4,000 or so indirect jobs are expected to be created by the Airbus production center.

“I look at it as a renaissance of the Gulf Coast region and specifically Mobile, Alabama, when it comes to commercial activity in the aerospace sector,” McArtor said.