One of the paradoxes in aerospace manufacturing is the outsized role that Connecticut plays in the industry.
The state’s 96-mile coastline sits adjacent to Long Island Sound, harbors no military installations tied to the U.S. Air Force and its three military bases are all aligned with the Coast Guard. Several large manufacturers support the U.S. Navy.
Yet Connecticut’s contributions to aerospace manufacturing are astonishingly high. The total economic output by the state’s aerospace and defense industry exceeded $70 million. At the Paris Air Show in June, Alpha Metalcraft Group was among more than two dozen businesses from the Nutmeg State showcasing their products.
“The aerospace industry is an important part of Connecticut’s employer base, supporting thousands of jobs and contributing billions to our economy,’’ Governor Ned Lamont said.
Alpha Metalcraft Group manufactures mission critical components for aerospace and defense markets. Its advanced metal forming processes, electroforming and deep drawing, provide high precision and high-quality components that meet rigorous aerospace industry standards.
“Manufacturing components in a state that is so engaged in the aerospace industry has been critical for us,’’ said Alec Searle, AMG’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’ve had a long-time association with many important aerospace manufacturers and have developed a collaborative relationship that has proved successful and enduring.”
The total number of A&D jobs in the state stands at nearly 129,000. Connecticut manufacturers bring in more than $18 billion in annual defense contracts, and is home to “Aerospace Alley,” an industrial ecosystem of thousands of advanced manufacturing companies drawing from the fourth most productive workforce in America.
“Connecticut’s roots are firmly planted in the aerospace industry,’’ said John Bourdeaux, President and CEO of AdvanceCT, which works to retain and recruit business and advance overall competitiveness in Connecticut. “The first functioning helicopter was built here, we are home to Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and the largest manufacturer of aerospace components in North America, Pursuit Aerospace.”
While Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky are widely recognized aerospace manufacturers based in the state, there are many others that support the industry. Moreover, the industry outlook is bright.
“The backlog of work in the aerospace industry is strong and the projections for growth are robust,” said Paul Lavoie, Chief Manufacturing Officer for Connecticut. “Commercial aerospace continues to grow at a rapid pace and with increasing military investment from Russia and China, our military investments will continue to be strong and drive the industry.”
Bourdeaux said businesses such as AMG thrive in the industry because of the close alignment of aerospace manufacturers. “AMG is well-positioned in Connecticut because we have a robust industry ecosystem,’’ he said. “In Connecticut, AMG is close to suppliers, close to customers and they have access to the talent they need.”
Lavoie said the tight-knit aerospace in the community in the state helps businesses thrive. “As workforce challenges persist, OEMs are looking to the supply chain for more manufacturing capability”, he said. “Also, the highly skilled labor pool for manufacturing is located in Connecticut. The opportunity to gain more work from large OEMs is great for companies that have capacity and capability.”
Connecticut’s ties to the aerospace industry run deep. The Pratt & Whitney aircraft company was founded in 1925 by Frederick Rentschler, the pioneer of the air-cooled radial engine design. Igor Sikorsky designed and flew the first vertical lift aircraft – the helicopter – in 1939. In 2022, 25 percent of all aircraft engines were manufactured in Connecticut.
For a state that hugs a shoreline and is known for submarines and its naval capabilities, its impact on aerospace might surprise many people.
“I have been involved in Connecticut manufacturing since 1991 and specifically aerospace manufacturing in Connecticut since 1996. I have never seen more involvement and contributions towards Connecticut aerospace manufacturing from industry and the state,” said John Boscia, AMG’s Vice President of Business Development. “The number of attendees and exhibitors of Connecticut aerospace manufacturers during the recent 2023 International Airshow held in Le Bourget, France was very impressive and inspiring.”
“Analysts believe commercial and defense spending in the aerospace industry is on a growth track, so we feel optimistic about the next 10 years,” Searle said. “Connecticut aerospace manufacturers who attended the Paris Air Show echo this sentiment – business is good.”
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