Approximately 20 members and guests of the Aerospace Arizona Association attended a tour on August 3 of Falcon Field Airport in Mesa, Arizona. The group learned of the airport’s history, its current uses, and toured several of the businesses operating on and adjacent to the airport campus.
Falcon Field Airport was established in 1941 as a military airport during World War II to train British Royal Air Force and American pilots. Following the war, it was deeded to the city of Mesa as a municipal airport. Although the city still maintains the contract for airport operations, it is self-sufficient and all airport revenue is used for capital improvement and airport expenses. More than 90 businesses are located at Falcon Field and it provides over 1300 jobs.
The first stop on the airport tour was a visit to the CAE Flight Training Academy. CAE provides simulator-based training for several national and international airlines, including USAirwarys and JetBlue. The Aerospace Arizona tour group got to see first-hand both the training simulators and classrooms that are used to train future pilots from all over the world.
The group then toured the production lines for Boeing’s Apache and Unmanned A160T Hummingbird systems in their facility adjacent to Falcon Field. The Mesa site has produced Apache helicopters since 1984 and the manufacturing technicians in the facility perform both assembly and painting of the aircrafts onsite.
The efficiency, precision, and highly trained workers in the Boeing production line were evident throughout the tour. The group learned that a continual effort to reduce production times while keeping quality at the highest levels is essential to Boeing’s contract with the US ARMY for production of these rotorcraft. Employee efforts to improve manufacturing processes and reduce the site’s environmental footprint were also significant and many improvements have been made on the campus over the years toward becoming a more sustainable facility.
Finally, the group visited the DEAGA Helicopter offices where they are the exclusive US distributor of Cicaré helicopters and trainers. Attendees learned of the history of DEAGA USA, the subsidiary of Chinese public company DEA General Aviation Holding Company. At the Mesa location, they specialize in the sales, support, training and assembly of the Cicaré range of products.
The Cicaré training system is a unique helicopter training platform that that uses eight self-directional wheels which allow a helicopter operator in training to easily and safely move in all directions; It also has air tank that has pneumatic cylinders allowing the helicopter pilot to rise and descend adjusting the level of difficulty during the training session.
Additionally, the entire system is co-operated by a teacher who can automatically disable it remotely in case of any emergency. This system of training has helped to eliminate accident risk for students and instructors during early flight training as well as created a reduction of between 60 and 90% of the hourly cost of flight training for beginning pilots.
“The tour of Falcon Field Airport was beneficial both as an educational opportunity and a networking tool for our members” Said Mignonne Hollis, Executive Director of Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation (AREDF) who serves on the advisory board for Aerospace Arizona Association. “This is just one of the many ways the Association is helping to advance the unmanned and aerospace industries as whole for our state.”
The aerospace and unmanned industry sectors are vital economic drivers for the economy of our state. Arizona is ranked second in the nation for aerospace and defense systems manufacturing jobs, employing more than 11,700 people. In 2016, our state was ranked first in the nation by Price Waterhouse Cooper for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness. Recognizing this, AREDF formed the Aerospace Arizona Association to promote growth and innovation within these industries throughout the state of Arizona.