FL: Santa Rosa's New Hangar Expected to Pave Way for Aviation Hub, New Jobs
19 Jul, 2021
Santa Rosa County, Fla., officially opened its new aviation customer service hangar at the Peter Prince Airport in East Milton recently. Its first occupant, Leonardo Helicopters, expects to hire 30 to 40 workers initially. County officials hope the new hangar will lead to years of working with aviation companies to put the county on the map.
Leonardo Helicopters will move into the hangar for the next two years as the company builds its 80,000-square-foot, multimillion dollar permanent maintenance facility at the Whiting Aviation Park next to Naval Air Station Whiting Field, reports the Pensacola News Journal.
"We're still building our full-blown aviation repair center, but our primary mission is always to support the U.S. Navy," said Joseph Richards, general manager of TH helicopter maintenance in Leonardo's Florida division. "It'll take three or four years, but with that will come plenty of job creation. Our first year will be small, our second will be a little bit bigger and the third will be the full growth plan. Depending on how successful we are that year, we could grow in size."
Leonardo already has hired seven full-time employees in Santa Rosa County, some of whom are local and some of whom are moving to the county from out of the area. The company plans to hire 30 to 40 people initially, with about 50 full-time employees as it continues to grow.
Leonardo Helicopters was selected by the Navy in 2020 to replace the Navy's aging training helicopter fleet with 130 TH-73A aircraft during the next four years, a contract worth $648.1 million.
It hasn't yet delivered the first of the TH-73As to NAS Whiting Field, but Richards said Leonardo has 16 aircraft painted and ready to go at its facility in Philadelphia and is waiting on Federal Aviation Administration clearance to begin sending the aircraft down to Milton.
While Leonardo is expected to move out of the hangar in two years, the county hopes that having the hangar in place at Peter Prince will draw more aviation companies to Santa Rosa in the future.
The new hangar is outfitted with a state-of-the-art foam fire suppression system, a crucial safety feature for any aviation company looking to establish a presence locally.
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