In an announcement today by the Governor of North Carolina, Bladen County will become the home to the fifth general aviation aircraft manufacturer in the United States.
In collaboration with the Miami, Florida based Ameravia Inc., currently the sole-source importer of Vulcanair aircraft into the United States, Vulcanair North America will begin producing the Vulcanair V1.0 aircraft, which has been in production since the late 1960’s. Vulcanair will establish its headquarters, manufacturing facility and maintenance operations at the Elizabethtown Corporate Airpark located at the Curtis L. Brown, Jr. Airfield (KEYF).
Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Rural Economic Development Division, highlighted the state’s dedication to aerospace infrastructure and fostering new business opportunities during a press conference at the Mac Campbell Jr Terminal at the airfield. Flowers emphasized that these efforts strengthen North Carolina’s position as a global aviation leader, advancing it from “First in Flight” to a hub of excellence.
Combined with $4 Million in North Carolina State appropriations, Bladen’s Bloomin Agri-Industrial, Inc. will invest an additional $3 Million in the design and construction of the Vulcanair North America Production facility that will consist of 36,000 square feet with the opportunity to expand up to 80,000 square feet as demand and production increases. The new facility will be part of the new Elizabethtown Corporate Airpark being built on the south side of the industrial park with direct access to the newly paved 5,004-foot runway.
According to Ken Hadaway, COO of Sovereign Aerospace-Bladen, the Vulcanair V1.0 aircraft is a small general aviation, four seat trainer aircraft specifically used by flight schools and private businesses.
Hadaway explained that currently, the Vulcanair V1.0 aircraft is being built in Italy, but the demand in the United States has resulted in a need to assist with production by establishing a manufacturing facility at the Elizabethtown Corporate Airpark. “The support and partnership with Ameravia, Inc., the sole-source importer for the Vulcanair aircraft has proven to be able to meet that demand and reduce the supply change logistical stress that is rampant within the aviation industry.” Hadaway added.
Hadaway said that currently, Ameravia, Inc. has 26 Vulcanair V1.0 aircraft on order and with the manufacturing facility in Elizabethtown, will have the capability of producing 96 aircraft per year with a total cost at delivery for each aircraft around $450,000.
Hadaway also noted that the manufacturing facility will create approximately 33 jobs with an average salary of $56,061 in areas like manufacturing, warehouse receiver & dispatch, A&P mechanics, structural technicians, avionics installers, Aircraft Inspectors (IA), sales, entry level apprenticeship to engineers, pilots, and others.
This facility will serve dual purposes and be the first in the United States to be the showroom and full-service maintenance center for Vulcanair aircraft. It will attract current owners, for service and updates as needed, and first-time buyers excited about the trainer capacity of the Vulcanair V1.0, as well as those interested in learning more about the Vulcanair V1.0 aircraft.
Mayor Sylvia Campbell of Elizabethtown is enthusiastic about the potential economic boost for the town, foreseeing increased job opportunities with sustainable wages for residents. She highlighted that new business growth and aerospace related jobs will contribute significantly to community-wide enhancements. Mayor Campbell also expressed confidence that once potential buyers visit, they will return frequently or hopefully even choose to relocate to Elizabethtown.
The mayor underscored the community’s pride in being the hometown of NASA Astronaut Curtis L. Brown Jr., adding that Bladen County and the Town of Elizabethtown are actively cultivating a reputation in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors, with a strong focus on workforce development.
Charles Ray Peterson, Chairman of the Bladen County Commissioners, emphasized that Vulcanair’s presence will generate high-skilled, well-paying jobs for both the next generation and veterans, while also fostering the growth of small businesses which directly aligns with the County’s strategic plan. He highlighted that this partnership represents a significant investment in the airport, poised to catalyze economic expansion for the County.
Peterson underlined the excitement in manufacturing airplanes in Bladen County and noted that the collaboration with Vulcanair is a source of immense pride for the community.
Vulcanair North America and Sovereign Aerospace – Bladen are set to become the inaugural occupants of a new Corporate Airpark, currently in the design phase by the Town’s aviation consultant, W.K. Dickson & Co., Inc. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of local State legislators including Senator Brent Jackson (D-9), Senator Danny Britt (D-24), Representative Phil Berger (D-26), Representative William Brisson (D-22), and Representative Brenden Jones (D-38), state funding has been secured to commence construction later this year. The Town and County extend their gratitude to these leaders for their support in fostering an environment conducive to aerospace-related economic development in the region.
Vulcanair North America will complete its relocation by the third quarter of 2024 and plans to have the plant open in 2025.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
WHO IS BRINGING AN AIRPLANE MANUFACTURING PLANT TO ELIZABETHTOWN?
In collaboration with the Miami, Florida based Ameravia Inc., currently the sole-source importer of Vulcanair aircraft into the United States, Vulcanair North America will begin producing the Vulcanair V1.0 aircraft which has been in production since the late 1960’s. Vulcanair, North America will establish its headquarters, manufacturing facility and maintenance operations at the Elizabethtown Corporate Airpark located at the Curtis L. Brown, Jr. Airfield (KEYF).
Sovereign Aerospace-Bladen was responsible for this introduction and partnership to land in Elizabethtown. SA – Bladen is a faith based, veteran owned organization that manages the airport and serves as the Fixed Based Operator (FBO) for the Curtis Brown Jr. Airfield.
WHY LOCATE IN ELIZABATHTOWN AND BLADEN COUNTY?
Elizabethtown’s appeal as a location stems from its proximity to the port in Wilmington, alongside its “built to suit” facility with airfield access. Moreover, its strategic positioning between major military installations, coupled with Sovereign Aerospace’s status as a SOCOM approved and Department of Labor authorized organization facilitating the “Skill bridge” veteran transition program, plays a vital role in providing the qualified aerospace workforce needed for Vulcanair.
WHAT WILL BE MANUFACTURED?
Vulcan Aircraft V1.0 – https://www.vulcanair.com/airc
Like birds, the V1.0 is a high wing, four seat aircraft used for training purposes.
The V1 is powered by the 180 hp Lycoming IO-360-M1A that can run with AvGas or alternative fuels. To satisfy the owner’s profile, the aircraft is offered with a constant pitch propeller, or as an option with a fixed pitch propeller. The aircraft cabin is extremely functional with four seats and three doors and a luggage capacity of 40 kg (88lb) in a separate and dedicated compartment.
The aircraft cockpit has been designed to keep all the commands and switches and circuit breakers in an ergonomic position for the pilot and its shape has been designed to minimize parallax errors.
WHERE WILL THE PLANT BE LOCATED?
The plant will be in the Corporate Airpark located adjacent to the Elizabethtown Industrial Park on Ben Greene Parkway.
HOW IS THIS PROJECT BEING FUNDED?
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of local North Carolina State legislators including Senator Brent Jackson (D-9), Senator Danny Britt (D-24), Representative Phil Berger (D-26), Representative William Brisson (D-22), and Representative Brenden Jones (D-38), $4 Million in state funding has been secured for this project. Additionally, Bladen’s Bloomin Agri-Industrial, Inc. will invest over $3 Million in the design and construction of the Vulcanair North America Production Facility that will consist of 36,000 square feet with the opportunity to expand up to 80,000 square feet as demand and production increases.
WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL ECONOMIC IMPACT?
Job Creation: The Elizabethtown plant’s assembly of the V1 will initially create thirty-three jobs, with expectations to expand to over 130 positions after completing the manufacturing facility, workforce training, and FAA approval for full-scale production. These roles will span various areas such as manufacturing, warehouse operations, maintenance (A&P mechanics, structural technicians), avionics installation, inspection, sales, and even entry-level apprenticeships to higher-skilled positions like engineers and pilots. The average salary for these jobs is estimated to be $56,061, providing competitive compensation across the board.
Product value and Production: A Vulcan V1.0 costs around $450,000. Currently, Ameravia, Inc. has 26 Vulcanair V1.0 aircraft on order. With the new manufacturing facility in Elizabethtown, they will have the capability of producing 96 aircraft per year with the first aircraft being produced in Q4 2024.