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Wed, Aug 02, 2023

Leonardo Breaks Ground on Florida Helicopter Support Center

New Whiting Aviation Park Facility to Open Late-2024

Birmingham, Alabama-based program management firm HPM and Leonardo Helicopters—the rotary-wing subsidiary of Italian multinational aerospace, defense, and security conglomerate Leonardo S.p.A.—have broken ground on a state-of-the-art customer support center in Milton, Florida.

HPM will manage the undertaking and provide preconstruction services for the rotary-wing support center at Whiting Aviation Park—a site immediately adjacent Naval Air Station Whiting Field (NASWF) (NDZ) in Florida’s Santa Rosa County.

Upon its projected late-2024 completion, the new Leonardo Helicopters Florida Support Center will span some 113,000-square-feet and include four large hangar bays containing tooling and equipment conducive to the performance of major helicopter component repair and overhaul as well as transmission work. Subject implements will include a Dynamic Test Bench and a full-sized paint-booth. To facilitate optimal supply-chain response for the U.S. Navy’s NASWF TH-73 fleet as well as Leonardo’s commercial customers operating throughout the Gulf of Mexico, the inchoate facility will include a large parts warehouse.

HPM President Ryan Austin stated: “This support center is an exciting addition to our extensive portfolio of aviation and defense projects across the country, and we have seen an immense demand for these types of facilities in Northwest Florida.”

Mr. Ryan continued: “The region continues to serve as one of the top locations for growth within the aviation and aerospace industries, and we have been busy providing quality program management services for a number of clients who are building in the market. We’re looking forward to working alongside Leonardo to deliver this highly-anticipated support center, as it plays into Milton’s burgeoning growth story.”

To better serve the U.S. Navy’s NASWF fleet of TH-73 Thrasher helicopters—and more than one-thousand Leonardo aircraft currently operating throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Central American regions—Leonardo worked closely with officials at Santa Rosa County and Space Florida for purpose of selecting a site at Whiting Aviation Park commensurate with the requirements of its new customer support facility.

Located on 267-acres of industrially-zoned land owned by Santa Rosa County, the Whiting Aviation Park occasions a first-of-its-kind limited-access use agreement between Santa Rosa County and the U.S. Navy. The agreement allows tenants of the park access to NASWF’s six-thousand-foot runway and air traffic control facilities and services.

As the undertaking’s project manager, HPM is tasked with overseeing budget, compliance, and scheduling controls during the support center’s planning and construction phases.

Leonardo Helicopters U.S. CEO Clyde Woltman set forth: “We are thrilled to break ground at Whiting Aviation Park on Leonardo Helicopters’ new Florida Support Center. With this modern and highly-efficient facility, Leonardo Helicopters will be able to bring its industry-leading product support services even closer to our customers. We would not be here today if not for the constant partnership and support of the State of Florida, Space Florida, Santa Rosa County, Triumph Gulf Coast, and the United States Navy.”

Leonardo’s 2019 announcement of its intention to build a helicopter support center at Whiting Aviation Park predated the United States Department of Defense’s selection of the company’s AW119 helicopter—now designated TH-73 Thrasher—to serve as the primary training aircraft for U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard rotary-wing pilots.

The first such helicopter was delivered to the U.S. Navy in June 2021. The following month, with the support of Santa Rosa County and Triumph Gulf Coast, Leonardo opened a temporary hangar at Peter Prince Airport (2R4) via which the Italian aerospace giant sought to gain FAA Part 145 certification and begin repair work whilst a larger, permanent facility was designed and developed at Whiting. To date, Leonardo has hired 19 full-time employees in Santa Rosa County. 

FMI: https://helicopters.leonardo.com/en/home

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