Airbus, the largest aerospace manufacturing company in the world, recently announced it plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Kansas, marking the company's first foray into building its planes on American soil. While this news was celebrated among aerospace industry leaders - as it is expected to have a tremendous impact on aerospace staffing - the European company recently made headlines again by announcing it plans to double the $12 billion it already spends on U.S. aerospace suppliers.
According to The Associated Press, Airbus America chairman Allan McArtor spoke to representatives from 114 companies at an aviation supplier summit in Kansas, where he said that 40 percent of Airbus' aerospace components already come from U.S. companies.
"We've got a backlog that quite frankly is disturbingly healthy, because it is hard to sell airplanes when your delivery position is so far out," McArtor said. "So we want to increase our capacity. We cannot increase our capacity without increasing our supply chain capability. We cannot increase our supply chain capability unless we approve more qualified suppliers. And that is precisely why we are here."
In Kansas alone, the aerospace industry directly supports more than 32,000 jobs. Airbus currently has an engineering center in the state that employs more than 350 people, but even more jobs will be created once the new plant is built.
According to the media outlet, McArtor added that Airbus depends on U.S. companies more than those found in any other country in the world, and that U.S. aerospace workers provide Airbus with the innovation, dependability and flexibility that drives it forward.
"We are the largest export customer of U.S. aerospace," McArtor said. "Boeing as you know is the largest exporter, we are the largest export customer and want to grow that."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, aerospace employment is growing throughout the country, however the states with the highest employment are Washington, where Boeing has several facilities that have spawned hundreds of components suppliers, California, Texas, Florida, Virginia and Ohio.
Aerospace engineering employment is expected to grow 5 percent in the 10-year period between 2010 and 2020 as more national defense projects begin around the country.