Science and Engineering Services Inc. is well under way with a major expansion of its Alabama operations, a $70 million, 450-job project announced two years ago during the Farnborough International Airshow in London.
Today, as world aerospace industry leaders and others — including an economic development team from Alabama, led by Governor Robert Bentley — gather near London for the 2016 edition of Farnborough, the company is ahead of its original employment projections.
SES, which based in Columbia, Maryland, and employs about 825 people in Huntsville, is a leading provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul services for airplanes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and ground combat systems.
Its largest customer is the U.S. government, with the majority of its aviation modification, engineering, integration and training work done in support of the Army. The company also is increasing its support of the Air Force and Navy, and it does several foreign military sales programs for countries around the world.
“We projected a workforce increase of 450 highly skilled employees over the next five years and we are ahead of the projection we anticipated,” said Skip Sherrell, vice president of business development for SES.
“To date, we have added almost 150 additional employees and last month announced the successful delivery of a prototype aircraft to the Air Force that will add over 140 additional jobs over the lifetime of that program, giving us a growth of almost 290 jobs of the 450 job projection.”
Meanwhile, the Huntsville facilities are growing, too. SES has completed a 250,000-square-foot addition of hangar and storage space that has allowed it to take on additional work, as expected, he added.
“New programs have since been awarded, and as existing programs have matured, opportunities have been created for additional growth,” Sherrell said. “We are very excited about the work and growth we envision over the next few years on both the government and commercial side.”
The recent delivery represented a major engineering, modification and integration effort.
It was the first prototype HH-60G Air Force Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) Aircraft that was modified from an Army UH-60L to the current Air Force HH-60G configuration.
“The ‘L2G’ program entails an aggressively planned, high-value program, including direction and oversight of multiple subcontractors. This effort comprises an extremely complex conversion requiring the incorporation of 72 airframe and avionics modifications,” Sherrell said.
“With the successful delivery of the first HH-60G aircraft, SES and its team of subcontractors have provided the Air Force a means to economically replace CSAR aircraft lost in combat,” he added.
Production of the aircraft will happen in Huntsville over the next several years, and the company conservatively estimates that it will bring more than 140 new jobs to the area.
SES’ commercial and government work are both growing at a steady and exciting pace, Sherrell said.
“Continually upgrading and improving existing systems for the government has proven to be very practicable from an economic standpoint and gets improved systems in the hands of soldiers quickly,” he said.
“On the commercial side, support of foreign military sales and direct commercial contracts with our foreign partners continues to grow in the face of a very unstable world.”
The company also is seeing growth due to the value it can offer customers that want a solution to their technical defense requirement.
“With instability becoming the norm, our partners and our military need solutions quickly. Aviation brings great value to that fight and our customers know they can count on SES to deliver solutions to them quickly with the highest quality,” Sherrell said.