|Jetliners add to production mix
Jetliners, drones, engines large and small, satellites, aerial weapons and more are
assembled, tested or managed in the region
When a U.S.-built A321 jetliner was delivered in 2016 to JetBlue in Mobile, Ala., it was
a milestone for aviation: the first Airbus passenger jet assembled in the United States.
While it attracted international attention, the jetliner is just one of the aviation
products made, developed, tested or managed in the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 region.
The area between New Orleans and Northwest Florida produces, in addition to
jetliners, drones, satellite propulsion systems, rocket engines, spacecraft, a small
helicopter, displays and high-tech sensors that are the eyes and ears of machines
big and small. It also develops, tests and manages the most advanced and powerful
aerial weapon systems in the world.
Three aircraft types are built in the region. The Airbus A320 series jetliners produced
at the Mobile Aeroplex in Alabama is one of four centers worldwide that produce the
company’s most popular passenger jet. In Mobile, that includes the A319, A320 and
Some 35 miles away in Moss Point, Miss., Northrop Grumman, builds portions of two
unmanned aircraft systems, the Fire Scout rotary wing and all variants of the Global
Hawk fixed-wing surveillance aircraft.
In Mariannna, Fla., Safari Helicopter produces the two-seat Safari 400 and Safari 500
helicopters, which can be bought in either a kit version or already assembled.
Four type of spacecraft are also built in part in the region. At Michoud Assembly
Facility, New Orleans, Lockheed Martin does initial work on NASA’s Orion spacecraft
and the composite portions of Sierra Nevada’s reusable spaceship, Dream Chaser. It’
s also where Boeing is building the core stage of the Space Launch System.
At Stennis Space Center, Miss., Lockheed Martin builds satellite propulsion cores
and multi-layer blankets for the A2100 family of satellites. To the east in Mobile,
Continental Motors has been building small engines for private aircraft since 1929.
Testing is a major focus of aerospace in this region. At Stennis Space Center, the
RS-68 and RS-25 rocket engines are assembled and tested. Blue Origin tested the
thrust chamber assembly for its BE-3 rocket engines at SSC for the first time in the
fall of 2012, and SpaceX is testing its Raptor next-generation rocket engine there.
Rolls-Royce North America also tests jetliner engines at its Outdoor Jet Engine Test
Sensors, including airborne mine-detection equipment, avionics systems, displays
and aerospace parts, weapons systems parts and more are also built in the Gulf
Coast region by companies providing jobs for many workers.