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World Leader in Aircraft Landing and Braking Systems Establishes Lehigh Valley Facility

By Colin McEvoy on May 26, 2015

A Safran employee repairing the landing gear of a Boeing 787 at the company's Toronto facility. (Photo courtesy Christian Fleury / CAPA Pictures / Safran)

A Safran employee repairing the landing gear of a Boeing 787 at the company’s Toronto facility. (Photo courtesy Christian Fleury / CAPA Pictures / Safran)

On the eve of an international business development tour to attract foreign direct investment to the region, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has announced a French multi-national aircraft landing and braking systems company has established a facility in the Lehigh Valley.

A world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems, Messier-Buggati-Dotwy is a subsidiary of Safran, an international high-technology group and supplier of systems and equipment in the markets of aerospace, defense and security. Messier-Buggati-Dowty has established a new wheel and brake repair facility in Lower Nazareth Township, where it will provide maintenance, repair and operations services for such commercial airline brands as Boeing, Airbus and JetBlue.

The announcement came as LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham, and Director of Business Development Jarrett Witt, along with state international economic development staff, prepared to embark on a tour through Western Europe targeting international markets with the strongest concentration of prospects for the Lehigh Valley’s target industries.

Safran is one of several international companies to invest in the Lehigh Valley in recent years, joining a strong slate of already existing international companies in the region and reflecting a growing interest from foreign direct investment in the Lehigh Valley, Cunningham said.

“We’re very proud that a global leader in the aerospace industry has chosen to establish itself in the Lehigh Valley,” Cunningham said. “About one third of LVEDC’s current prospects are coming from outside the country. This shows that the Lehigh Valley is a market for international companies, and that market is only continuing to grow.”

The 25,000 square-foot facility, located on 2.9 acres at 181 Mikron Road, will be operated by Safran’s subsidiary MBD Wheel and Brake Repair and Services. It marks MBD’s first facility in the eastern United States; the company currently has shops in Milwaukee, Wis., and Miami, Fla.

Messier-Bugatti-Dowty is a partner to 30 leading commercial, military, business and regional airframers. The company supports more than 25,000 aircraft making over 40,000 landings each day. Messier-Bugatti-Dowty employs more than 7,000 people across Europe, North America and Asia. Safran employs about 69,000 people worldwide.

“(Safran and MBD) are investing together through this new facility to meet significant growth in the carbon brakes market, while maintaining that sense of proximity to our U.S. customer base,” said Mike Buckley, president of MBD Wheel and Brake Repair and Services. “Messier-Bugatti-Dowty is proactively anticipating the needs of our customers to ensure rapid response and support.”

Safran joins a strong base of existing international companies already present in the Lehigh Valley, which includes such companies Olympus Corp., B. Braun, Nestlé, Mack Trucks, Sodexo, Bosch Rexroth, Porsche, BMW, FLSmidth, Primark and Lafarge.

In the past year alone, the Lehigh Valley has seen the expansions or additions of such companies as SunOpta Inc., a Canadian organic foods company; Mountain Warehouse, a London-based outdoor clothing retailers; Primark, an Irish online fashion retailer; and I2R Nanowave, a Canadian aerospace equipment manufacturer.

Additionally, Taizhou Fuling Plastics Co., China’s largest manufacturer of plastic tableware and kitchenware, last year announced plans for a $21.3 million facility in Upper Macungie Township, becoming the first Chinese manufacturing company to establish a facility in the state of Pennsylvania.

Commercial airliners and regional jet platforms that contract with Safran will bring their wheels and carbon brakes to the new shop for service and repair capabilities. Among those that will be serviced there are the Airbus A320-family and Boeing 737, 767, 777 and 787 operators, as well as low-cost carriers and aircraft parts providers.

Safran considered other states for its new facility, but settled on the Lehigh Valley in part due to its logistics network and proximity to major airports and northeastern markets like New York City and Philadelphia. LVEDC had been assisting Safran since the summer of 2013, identifying the site for them and providing information about the region’s labor pool and economic assets.

LVEDC’s international tour runs from May 24 to June 5 and includes stops in Germany, France, and England. Daily activities will include direct marketing to prospective companies, including visits with several international prospects with which LVEDC has already been previously engaged. Pennsylvania’s Office of International Business Development has committed its global network of trade and investment offices to assist LVEDC in identifying and arranging company visits with qualified prospects.

LVEDC’s increased focus on foreign direct investment is in keeping with one of the recommendations from an economic development study the organization commissioned from the Atlanta-based Garner Economics, LCC. That report noted: “Business solicitation efforts know no boundaries. Especially for markets like the Lehigh Valley that are proximate to global entrée points into the United States, potential locates are just as likely to come from international sources as domestic ones.”


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