LONDON, England — GKN Aerospace announced today that it has opened a new composite design engineering center at its Advanced Composite Structures (ACS) facility in Alabama, enhancing the capabilities of the Elmore County operation that serves major North America-based manufacturers.
GKN Aerospace officials joined Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and state economic development leaders for today’s announcement at the Farnborough International Airshow, the premier trade show for the aerospace industry.
GKN Aerospace said the center at the Tallassee facility extends its global engineering strength, providing additional expertise in the design and build of major composite structures and assemblies for aircraft and helicopter new customer programs.
The center expands the established design for manufacturing (DFM) operation at the ACS facility. Working with customers such as HondaJet, Bell Helicopter, and Airbus, the Alabama operation has achieved improvements in manufacturing speed, reliability and cost for critical structures on a variety of aircraft programs.
“Our new composites design engineering center enables a vital expansion of the design/development engineering support we provide to our customers, significantly increasing the number of highly skilled engineering personnel based at our growing Alabama facility,” said Daniele Cagnatel, chief executive officer, GKN Aerospace – North America.
Governor Bentley said Alabama and U.K.-based GKN Aerospace have enjoyed a long, collaborative relationship that provided a solid foundation for the company’s decision to locate the composites design engineering center at the Tallassee facility.
“This research center reflects the company’s confidence in Alabama and the state’s capabilities in the industry,” Governor Bentley said. “We expect that this project will result in the creation of 30 new, high-paying positions at the GKN facility in Elmore County. These will be knowledge-based jobs that produce aerospace advancements and new technology – and the work will be done in Alabama.”
Initially, work at the new center in Elmore County will focus on design and development of advanced composite technologies for rotorcraft. Over the next two to three years, the center intends to increase its workforce of design and analysis engineers with recruits being drawn from the existing GKN Aerospace engineering team and through recruitment both locally and nationally across the USA.
“As we have made our plans for this center, the State of Alabama, Elmore County and the City of Tallassee have all been excellent partners, closely involved, offering assistance with training and facilities expansion,” Cagnatel said. “We are very appreciative of this support and we are proud of the strong and effective partnership we have with the state.”
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said the move by GKN Aerospace illustrates how the state has become an attractive location for knowledge-based jobs in the design and engineering fields within the aerospace industry.
“Alabama can offer advanced manufacturers what they need to succeed – a skilled workforce, great job-training programs, business-friendly policies and meaningful cooperation,” Canfield said. “This announcement from GKN Aerospace shows that Alabama can also provide an ideal location for research and development activities that support advanced manufacturing.”
Composite aerostructures design engineering is a core competency for GKN Aerospace, with engineering centers in Europe, the United States and Asia working as a team to create solutions for customer programs that fully exploit the qualities of composite materials that can be manufactured swiftly and consistently using the latest automated production technologies. Composites are lightweight materials increasingly found in airframes and engines.
The Tallassee facility, located about 35 miles from Montgomery, has been in operation since 1985 and today employs over 1,000 people, producing composite aerostructures for key aerospace industry partners. The Alabama plant boasts 380,000 square feet of manufacturing space, after a 120,000-square-foot expansion announced in 2005.
“GKN Aerospace has been a major contributor to the economic vitality of Elmore County,” said David Bowen, chairman of the Elmore County Commission. “GKN Aerospace is the county’s largest manufacturer and, through its growth, will continue to have a tremendous presence in the state’s aerospace industry. The Tallassee facility has been one of the company’s most productive facilities in the world. We’re committed to helping them achieve even more success.”
ABOUT GKN AEROSPACE
GKN is a global engineering group. It has four divisions; GKN Aerospace, GKN Driveline, GKN Powder Metallurgy and GKN Land Systems, which operate in the aerospace, automotive and land systems markets. Nearly 50,000 people work in GKN companies and joint ventures in more than 30 countries.