BRIDGEPORT — Aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has announced it will be investing more than $30 million in its engine services facility in North Central West Virginia. Officials said that along with a strong commitment to the workforce and state, the investment will bring job opportunities to the area.
The facility, located in Bridgeport adjacent to North Central West Virginia Airport, was selected from among all of Pratt & Whitney’s worldwide sites and will service the market-leading PW814GA and PW815GA engines that power the Gulfstream G500 and G600 aircraft, respectively, with the capacity to expand its capabilities to other PW800 engine models in the future.
“Based on the facility’s capacity to provide quality, speed and value for our customers, we are hoping to leverage all of these values for the maintenance, repair and overhaul, or MRO, activities for our PW800 engine,” said Catherine Cunningham, spokesperson for Pratt & Whitney. “We intend to work within the existing capacity of the site and add approximately 50 positions that we will begin recruiting sometime this month or in early January.”
With the relatively new PW800 in service, Cunningham said the next phase is looking down the road at the MRO services for the engine family.
The $30 million investment will go into the site itself, the setup of the line for the MRO activities and the training of employees, she said.
“With an investment like this, it is obviously a commitment to the site for the maintenance and repair of our new engines, or what we are calling our ‘next generation’ engine and a cut above the other business aviation engine,” she said.
“We are hoping that this will be able to support our recent launch and any future aircraft MRO activities,” Cunningham said.
“Today’s announcement is one that makes your heart full and not something you see every day,” said Tracy Miller, president of the Mid Atlantic Aerospace Complex. “West Virginia and Pratt & Whitney have been partners for years, and this investment solidifies their commitment to West Virginia, their future in the state and great jobs for West Virginians for many generations to come.”
Miller said the investment decision originated with a vision of the area facility as officials looked toward the future of local aerospace workers and development of the economy in the state.
Miller said she believes the investment decision was not just about business or engines, but about the people and state of West Virginia.
“It touched my heart that they were looking out for the future of the state, making sure that there are jobs for people that want to stay in West Virginia,” she said. “This is going to solidify current jobs and future growth in the state to come. I think this sets a precedent in the aviation industry as a whole and makes West Virginia even more competitive in the aviation (field).”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he is committed to ensuring the aerospace industry continues to grow in West Virginia.
“I look forward to seeing the benefits of this investment for our state,” he said. “Over the last few years, I have witnessed the tremendous growth and development of the aerospace industry in West Virginia. During my visit to Pratt & Whitney’s Bridgeport facility last year, I was impressed by the incredible work being done at the plant, and I am convinced that no one does this work as well as West Virginians do.”
Ron Watson, president of the Benedum Airport Authority, which governs North Central West Virginia Airport, said the $30 million investment is going to mean more jobs and a boost to the economy in the region.
“It’s a win-win for North Central West Virginia,” he said. “We now have to make sure that our young folks are ready for the work that’s going to be provided in the aerospace industry for years to come. We have to work together to be prepared for this tremendous opportunity for our economy.”
North Central West Virginia Airport Director Rick Rock said having Pratt & Whitney as a part of the airport family and on the grounds has been significant for the last 30 to 40 years.
“This announcement is going to have a major impact for years to come as it shows their commitment to West Virginia for the next 30 to 40 years,” he said. “It’s hard to quantify how big of an impact this is going to create, but to have a commitment from someone so significant as Pratt & Whitney in the state, believing in workforce and community, I can’t emphasize how big of a deal this is. Thank you, Pratt & Whitney.”
“As part of the next phase of the successful entry into service of the PW800, we have chosen the Bridgeport facility to provide MRO services for the engine family,” said Satheeshkumar Kumarasingam, vice president of customer service for Pratt & Whitney. “This decision was based on the site’s wealth of technical expertise in business aviation engines and its excellent record in providing quality, speed and value for our customers.
“Adding the game-changing PW800 engine to their repertoire of business aviation engines will equip and upskill the facility with high-value service engineering jobs,” she said.
Gov. Jim Justice called the announcement “incredible news.”
“Pratt & Whitney’s decision to invest in their West Virginia site is incredible news and is a testament to the quality of our skilled workforce,” Justice said. “This outstanding company has been an integral part of the West Virginia aerospace community since 1971, and we are thrilled by their ongoing commitment to our great state.”
Cunningham said the upgraded facility expects to be fully functional by early 2021.