MOBILE, Alabama – Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said the Alabama Aviation Training Center that officially opened Tuesday at the Mobile Aeroplex – the home of Airbus’ future U.S. passenger jet factory — represents a cornerstone in efforts to expand the state’s aerospace industry.
The $7 million training facility, operated by AIDT, the state’s top-ranked job-training agency, has already begun preparing workers for the Airbus A320 Family Assembly Line (FAL). The factory, now under construction on 116 acres at the Aeroplex, will begin delivering aircraft to customers in early 2016.
At a grand opening ceremony Tuesday at the facility, Canfield said the Alabama Aviation Training Center reflects the state’s strong partnership with Airbus, which is investing $600 million in the FAL project and creating 1,000 jobs. The center also underscores Alabama’s “continued commitment to growing our foothold in the aerospace sector,” he added.
“This is more than a building. It’s actually a milestone,” Canfield said. “It’s the next step in a partnership. This is more than a training center … This building represents dreams. The people who come through here will see their lives changed forever.”
The Airbus assembly operation is viewed as a key development for Alabama’s aerospace sector, making the state one of only three in the U.S. where large passenger jets are assembled. Alabama’s aerospace industry comprises more than 300 companies, employing around 83,000 people.
Lt. Governor Kay Ivey said the job-training programs of AIDT provide a “solid foundation” for companies that operate in Alabama, while also enhancing the state’s economic development efforts.
“We have a slogan, ‘Made in Alabama’ — that slogan represents a source of pride in the dependability and productivity of our workforce,” she said at the grand opening event. “That combination of characteristics sets Alabama apart from other states.”
Allan McArtor, chairman and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc., said the Alabama Aviation Training Center will play an important role as the state’s aerospace industry continues to grow. “This is going to be a very impressive aerospace community. It all starts with people and this is where we train the people,” McArtor told AL.com. (Read an article on why Airbus chose Alabama.)
AIDT TRAINING EXPERTISE
AIDT Assistant Director Lee Hammett said the facility includes six classrooms and labs, making it capable of training scores of skilled workers that could end up assembling Airbus aircraft. Instruction at the center will focus on skills such as advanced materials composites, paint, electrical and welding that will be needed on the aviation giant’s FAL. Airbus and AIDT staffers will provide the training.
“Airbus is one of the great companies on the planet, and we are glad they are here in Alabama,” AIDT Director Ed Castile said at the ribbon cutting.
AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce, helped build the state’s auto industry workforce, beginning with its Mercedes-Benz partnership forged in the early 1990s. AIDT also operates a martime training center in Mobile, providing skilled welders for companies such as Austal USA. Its expanding Robotics Technology Park near Decatur is considered a one-of-a-kind facility that Area Development magazine described as “ahead of the curve.”