As Alabama continues to emerge as the hub of the Gulf Coast’s aerospace industry, the state’s shipments of local products sent around the world are also on the rise.
In 2015, Alabama’s aerospace industry exports topped $869 million, a 16 percent growth from the previous year, according to U.S. trade data. So far this year, the numbers are increasing at an even more rapid pace, with exports up more than 140 percent from the same period last year.
Civilian aircraft, engines, and parts make up the lion’s share of Alabama’s aerospace industry exports, said Hilda Lockhart, director of the International Trade Office at the Alabama Department of Commerce.
Helicopters and parts seem to be growing in this industry sector, she added.
“This entire industry sector is growing as our companies have the experience and technology to meet a broad range of requirements that is now in demand throughout the world,” Lockhart said. “Once again, the world wants quality products for safety and they rely on the U.S. for trusted parts.”
Aerospace exports growing across the region
The growth in aerospace exports is a trend seen throughout the region, said Neal Wade, chairman of The Aerospace Alliance, a consortium of business leaders, economic developers and government officials who aim to establish the Gulf Coast as a preeminent aerospace, space and aviation corridor.
Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana are all represented in the organization.
“We are seeing growth in exports in all four states, as the industry grows,” Wade said.
The potential for continued growth, both in exports and in local jobs and investment for the states, is significant, he continued, as companies are drawn to the influx of activity by their industry peers.
“This is a perfect place to locate and then create products that can then be exported around the world,” Wade said. “It’s much easier to build and sell off that foundation than if you’re trying to create something new.”
France leads export destinations
France, home base of Airbus, was the top export market during 2015 for Alabama aerospace products and parts, with a total of $237 million in shipments. Over the last decade, exports to France in this sector have increased 98 percent.
Germany was #2, with the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Brazil rounding out the top five.
Notable growth has been seen in the UAE. Last year, Alabama aerospace exports to the country were valued at $92 million, a 126 percent increase from 2014. So far this year, exports have grown more than 19,000 percent.