BUILDING A JOB MAGNET
OMIA, AEROMOD AND W&J CONSTRUCTION
The hangar is large enough to accommodate work on Boeing 747s or to hold a Trump rally that drew more than 10,000 supporters, back in September. Built and later modified for the Melbourne Airport Authority by W&J Construction, the 78,260 square foot hangar consists of one high bay and one low bay designed to accommodate two bridge cranes. The huge, 10-panel hangar door opens to a span almost equal to a football field and has a tail door, providing a unique notch that operates independently. “Our experience with large scale fire suppression systems within hangars, launch vehicle assembly buildings and manufacturing facilities provided us with the skill and knowledge to complete this fast-track project on-time and under budget,” the company’sVice President Erik Costin observed.
The facility is another example of Orlando Melbourne International Airport’s attraction as a base of operations for an ever-growing list of aerospace companies which include Harris, Northrop Grumman, Embraer, GE, Rockwell Collins, L3, LiveTV and others, in addition to the growing number of airlines that provide regular service out of the facility. Collectively, the Airport is responsible for an annual economic impact of greater than $2.6 billion to the local community, nearly 500,000 passengers.
The airport authority recently inked an agreement with Aeromod International that is expected to bring in nearly $647,000 in annual revenues over the 10-year lease. The company, which relocated their corporate headquarters to Melbourne from Detroit, is an industry leader in avionics and structural modification and repair services.
Using the state-of-the-art hangar, Aeromod can perform MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhauling) services on Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell Douglas and other aircraft. Their services include inflight connectivity, wireless access, interior reconfiguration, cockpit upgrades and more. The company is also capable of installing GoGo systems (a leading provider of inflight Internet and entertainment) for Air Canada, Delta and other commercial aircraft, and also can work on Virgin Atlantic and the new, Miami-based Eastern Airlines.
A Win on Multiple Levels
State and local officials are especially optimistic about the 200+ jobs the company will bring to Brevard. It has been reported that AeroMod’s tech jobs will range in pay from $55,000 to $75,000 annually while their program manager jobs will run from $80,000 to $100,000. In addition, their move here also plays well into the new aviation maintenance program offered at Eastern Florida State College, which is just minutes from the company’s hangar and corporate headquarters.
The hangar was originally built for MidAir, but with the sudden death of the company’s president, and subsequent bankruptcy filing, the doors were opened for AeroMod. Rodney Willits, regional director for AeroMod’s Asia-Pacific and Middle East region, was quoted as saying that for some time the company had sought an available wide-bodied aircraft hangar in the southeastern United States that had a couple of things going for it: a qualified labor pool to draw from, and a closer proximity to commercial airline hubs. “We were very keen to go south, especially around the Florida region because there are a lot of international airlines that use that state as a hub,” Willits said. “And we found out the hangar was available in Melbourne.”
At the ribbon cutting in October, Gov. Rick Scott commented, “I am proud to announce that AeroMod International is continuing to invest in Florida and will be expanding to create 100 new jobs. These new jobs are in addition to the 150 jobs AeroMod has already created since choosing to relocate to Florida from Michigan thanks to our investments in the Orlando Melbourne International Airport. Florida’s transportation and infrastructure is among the best in the nation, and we have made record investments in this system in order to continue to attract more job creators and families. Today’s incredible jobs win shows how important it is to do all we can to make our state more competitive so more companies like AeroMod will choose to invest in Florida.”
Numbers released around that time show Florida’s unemployment at 4.7 percent and an annual job growth rate of 3.6 percent compared to 1.9 percent for the nation. The State of Florida invested $6.7 million through the Florida Department of Transportation’s Aviation Program Funds for the new hangar and will be providing an additional $5 million to assist the airport with construction of a second hangar.
Gary Girard, President of AeroMod International, added, “AeroMod International took many things into consideration before moving our headquarters to Orlando Melbourne International Airport. One of the prime considerations was the proactive attitude and respect for aviation exemplified by Scott. He epitomizes the forward-thinking and commitment needed to grow aviation jobs in this community. Our goal was to move to a location in the southeast that would allow AeroMod to grow and strategically position ourselves.”
Joining in the same chorus, Greg Donovan, executive director of the Orlando Melbourne International Airport commented while introducing the governor, “Governor Rick Scott has earned the title of Florida’s Champion of Aviation; he’s the most supportive governor that the aviation industry has ever had. As evidenced today, he not only replaced lost jobs here on the Space Coast, but he continues to add jobs.” ◆
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