Pontifications: Mississippi’s aerospace footprint

By Scott Hamilton

July 17, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Living in the Seattle area, the highest profile, dominant industry is the commercial aerospace sector.

Boeing, of course, headlines just about everything when it comes to aviation.

Boeing’s competition is principally Airbus—or at least it used to be until Boeing claimed teeny tiny Bombardier, a company one-sixth the size of Boeing’s revenues, is poised to put Boeing out of business with BBD’s CSeries.

Broader competitive view

But we here in Washington State have a broader view of the competition. It’s not just some company from France or Montreal (both of which do business with our state’s supply chain). It’s not just China, Japan or Russia.

It’s the US Southeast.

Boeing’s plant in Charleston (SC) is well known, as is the new Airbus plant in Mobile (AL). It’s also known that other states in the Southeast have aerospace operations.

Florida, for example, is home to Embraer’s corporate jet production. Pratt & Whitney has a commercial and military jet engine production facility in Florida.

Spirit Aerosystems builds Airbus A350 composite panels in North Carolina. The Southeast is known for its historical ties to military aerospace and manned space flight.


Click on image to enlarge. Source: Mississippi Development Authority.

While at the Paris Air Show, I stopped by the chalet for the State of Mississippi. I had this vague idea that some aerospace companies are in Mississippi. I had no idea how many area, however.

Last week, I spoke with Glenn McCollough, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority to learn more.

Going to Mars via Mississippi

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of information, following a year of Mars-related news and information, is that when man goes to Mars, he’ll do it via Mississippi, McCollough said.

“All the engines for manned flight for the last 5 years were tested at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County,” he said. “The trip to Mars goes through Hancock County, MS.”

Hancock County is about half way between New Orleans (LA) and Biloxi (MS), on the Louisiana border.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Glenn McCollough

Mississippi is also home to Insitu, General Atomics, Northrop Grumman and Stark Aerospace unmanned aerial vehicle facilities. The latter is headquartered in Columbus (MS). Stark is a subsidiary of IAI Bedek. Insitu is a subsidiary of The Boeing Co. In addition to Northrop Grumman’s UAV/UAS business, sub-assembly of the company’s F-35 is done in the state.

The Federal Aviation Administration chose Mississippi to be the headquarters of its Unmanned Center of Excellence.

Aerospace suppliers

Eaton and Raytheon are major aerospace suppliers, McCollough said. “Every commercial airliner in the world has parts from Mississippi.” GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce have facilities here.

Airbus Helicopters has operations in the state.

Top 5 companies

The Top 5 aerospace companies in Mississippi, McCollugh said, are (in no particular order) Eaton, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Airbus Helicopters.


McCollough said Mississippi offers and aerospace workforce training program, tax incentives at the state and county levels, incentives for infrastructure and headquarters, health care and other areas to attract new business to the state.


3 Comments on “Pontifications: Mississippi’s aerospace footprint

  1. Also, Boeing for a long time has had a presence in Huntsville, Alabama. It is NASA and space related, and it might at one time been a part of McDonnell Douglas.

  2. All the aerospace interest in Mississippi comes via the powerful house and senate delegations backed by local and state subsidies.
    The Stennis Space centre isnt named after an engineer or space flight pioneer but a conservative Democrat who served in the US Senate for 41 years ( 47-89) and would have been instrumental in securing this Nasa facility for his state

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