$28 million aviation deal could create 100 jobs for Space Coast
By Chris Fish
BREVARD - The city of Wuhan, China, announced that it will be purchasing 100 aircraft from American manufacturers, including 50 XL2s from the Melbourne-based company Liberty Aerospace, in a deal that will cost $28 million dollars and could generate as many as 100 jobs for the Space Coast.
The XL2 is a two-seat training/touring aircraft.
City officials from Melbourne and Wuhan, a city of more than 10 million and a major transportation hub for China, announced the deal in a press conference at the Melbourne International Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
"We are genuinely excited about this," said Paul M. Bartlett, Liberty Aerospace president and CEO, in a press release. "The relationship formed today will enable Liberty Aerospace to enter the growing Chinese general aviation market."
Federal Aerospace Holding Group, LLC, a U.S. investment firm that specializes in the development of the Chinese general aviation market, initiated the meeting between the two cities and will purchase the remaining 50 four-seat helicopters from U.S. manufacturers.
Jennifer Sugarman, community relations specialist for Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, said Liberty Aerospace will be supporting the manufacturing of the 50 helicopters.
Future orders from China could bring capital gains and employment to the Space Coast, which is still suffering from the closing of NASA's shuttle program.
Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, said in a press release that the press conference helps establish a "sister-city" relationship between Melbourne and Wuhan, and the creation of jobs for the project would greatly benefit the Space Coast.
"These meetings are our next step in our partnership with China," Ms. Weatherman said. "The Space Coast encompasses the highly skilled workforce and manufacturing base to meet the city of Wuhan's product needs, and we look forward to enhancing opportunity between this aviation city and the Space Coast's aviation companies."
By 2015, China, which now has limited flights to commercial and military aircraft, will open all of its airspace to general aviation flights.
At the press conference, Melbourne Mayor Harry Goode and Wuhan's Vice Secretary General Li Zouqing finalized cooperative agreements with Melbourne, Wuhon and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast.