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Leonardo breaks ground on customer centre in northwest Florida
In partnership with Space Florida, Leonardo will invest over $65m towards the construction of a 113,000 sq ft facility for aftermarket support. Construction should be completed by the end of 2024.
The facility will provide major component repair and overhaul, transmission testing and repair along with new tooling, a full-sized paint booth, and a spacious warehouse for spare parts.
Read this story in our October 2023 printed issue.

Leonardo has officially broken ground on its new customer support centre at Whiting Aviation Park in Milton, Florida, a site immediately adjacent to Naval Air Station Whiting Field (NASWF).

The Leonardo Helicopters Florida support centre will be 113,000 sq ft and include four large hangar bays, major component repair and overhaul, transmission work that will include a dynamic test bench, a full-sized paint booth and all associated tooling and equipment. In addition, a large parts warehouse will also be co-located to enable a more efficient supply chain response for the US Navy's TH-73 fleet, as well as for commercial customers operating throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The centre is slated to be completed by the end of 2024.

“We are thrilled to break ground at Whiting Aviation Park on Leonardo Helicopters' new Florida support centre,” says Leonardo US CEO Clyde Woltman. “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 first announced its intention to build in 2019, if its aircraft was selected for the US Navy's Advanced Helicopter Training System, a comprehensive programme to replace an ageing fleet of TH-57 Sea Rangers that operate from the NASWF. In January 2020, the US Navy selected a variant of the AW119, now named the TH-73 Thrasher, to serve as the primary training aircraft for its US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard, as well as other allied nations. The first aircraft was delivered to the US Navy in June 2021, and in July, with the support of Santa Rosa County and Triumph Gulf Coast, Leonardo opened a temporary hangar at Peter Prince airport to gain its FAA Part 145 certification and begin repair work while a larger, permanent facility was being designed and developed at Whiting. Since that time, Leonardo has hired 19 full time employees in Santa Rosa County.

“Space Florida's unwavering commitment to expanding the spaceport system in Florida has set a course for a new era of exploration and innovation,” says Space Florida president and CEO Frank DiBello. “Adding Leonardo Helicopters to our aerospace sector propels us toward a future where Florida is the leading force for a global aerospace economy.”

To better serve the needs of this fleet and more than 1,000 Leonardo aircraft that are operating throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Central America, the company worked closely with partners at Santa Rosa County and Space Florida to select the site. Located on 267 acres of industrially zoned land owned by Santa Rosa County, the Whiting Aviation Park features a first-of-its-kind, limited access use agreement between Santa Rosa County and the US Navy, allowing tenants of the park to have access to NASWF's 6,000 ft runway and air traffic control. Working with its partner Space Florida, Leonardo will be investing over $65,000,000 into the construction, fit-out and tooling for this new facility.

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