Written by: Alex Pietsch, director of Governor’s Office of Aerospace
We had a fascinating visit to the Airbus A380 wing box production facility just across the border in Wales.
If you’re not familiar with the A380, this is Airbus’ superjumbo, double-decker airplane. And, as a lady at the pub last night described it, it’s “massive!” The wings are too, of course–each one is 36 meters long!
Similarly to a place much more familiar to me, the Boeing Renton Plant, airplanes have been built in Broughton since WWII. British Aerospace built the Wellington Bomber here. But, the A380 wing factory is much more recent, opening in 2003. It is a heavily automated production process involving giant tools custom-designed by Mukilteo-based ElectroImpact.
By the way, Airbus’ uses a incredibly complex logistical process in getting the A380 wings and all it’s other giant component parts to their final assembly location. To see this trains, planes, and automobiles story, watch this video: http://videos.airbus.com/video/iLyROoafvDZB.html.
Airbus presents an additional opportunity for Washington’s 700+ aerospace suppliers. The company currently spends $12 billion buying products from suppliers in the US and they want to grow that investment by billions in the coming years. Since we’re home to the largest aerospace supply chain in the country, we’re a natural to gain more of that business. In fact, Washington is already the 3rd most important state to Airbus in terms of the number of suppliers ( we have 25 Tier 1 suppliers) and 5th in terms of dollars spent (approximately $200 million annually).
A few of us had a strategy session with the head of North American procurement and we committed to working together to help capture this opportunity for Washington companies. I look forward to building this relationship and further diversifying our aerospace industry.
Now we’re off to London and preparing for Farnborough! Cheers!