New legislation paves way for aviation industry

With Redstone Arsenal and its associated aerospace industry in the Tennessee Valley and with Airbus locating its new factory in Mobile, Alabama has an opportunity to become a major player in the commercial aviation industry in the Southeast. The Alabama Commercial Aviation Business Improvement Act increases the state’s chances of expanding on its successful foundation.

“We want Alabama to be the center of the new aerospace corridor that will be created by the announcement that Airbus will build its U.S. plant in the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This legislation keeps us competitive and on track to locate the suppliers and new jobs that Airbus will bring to the area.”

Nurturing an industry can pay major dividends. One Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County grew into a burgeoning automotive industry throughout the state. Alabama is arguably the Southeastern hub for automotive manufacturing.

State officials hope that Airbus can do the same for commercial aviation in the state. But in order for that to happen, Alabama must realize the benefit from attracting component suppliers to the state, as well. The Alabama Commercial Aviation Business Improvement Act helps make that possible.

“Without this bill, suppliers could very easily choose to build in Florida or Mississippi, which already have similar laws,” said Gov. Robert Bentley, who signed the bill.

Airbus wants its suppliers close by, said Tuscaloosa Rep. Bill Poole, one of the bill’s sponsors. With the legislation already in place in neighboring states, Alabama needed the bill to be competitive. The state of Washington has a similar law that helps protect Airbus competitor Boeing, he said.

“I am excited at the prospect of bringing Airbus and the aerospace industry to Alabama and am proud to have played a role in passing this important legislation,” Poole said. “The recruitment of the aerospace industry to our state has the potential to be transformative in the same way that the automotive industry has changed our state. The aerospace industry will bring thousands of quality jobs with good wages and benefits that will benefit our citizens.”

The bill places limitations on lawsuits against manufacturers of aircraft capable of seating 100 or more passengers. It sets a reasonable time limit of 12 years from the time of delivery during which lawsuits can be brought against aircraft companies and suppliers, and it prevents people from outside of the state and country from “venue shopping” lawsuits in Alabama.

But the bill protects the rights of Alabama citizens to sue within the state.

Airbus will bring 1,000 manufacturing jobs to Alabama and plant construction will create 3,000 temporary jobs. Suppliers could bring another 3,700 jobs to the state.

That’s a prize well worth seeking. Poole and co-sponsors, Sen. Cam Ward and Sen. Vivian Figures, gave Alabama a fighting chance.

By The Tuscaloosa News: Click here for full article

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