Leonardo breaks ground on new customer support center in Northwest Florida

Milton,  31 July 2023 16:05

In partnership with Space Florida, Leonardo Helicopters will invest over $65 million dollars towards the construction of a 113,000 sq/ft facility for aftermarket support for Leonardo’s aircraft.  

The new facility will provide major component repair and overhaul, transmission testing and repair along with new tooling, a full-sized paint booth, and a spacious warehouse for spare parts.

The Leonardo Helicopters Florida Support Center is slated to be completed by the end of 2024.   

Leonardo has officially broken ground on its new, state-of-the-art customer support center at Whiting Aviation Park in Milton, FL at a ceremony held last Friday, July 28th.  Joined by partners from Santa Rosa County, Space Florida, Triumph Gulf Coast and the State of Florida, Leonardo announced that construction had officially begun on its highly anticipated helicopter support center at Whiting Aviation Park, a site immediately adjacent to Naval Air Station Whiting Field (NASWF).  The Leonardo Helicopters Florida Support Center will be 113,000 sq/ft and include four large hangar bays, major component repair and overhaul, transmission work that will include Dynamic Test Bench, a full-sized paint booth and all associated tooling and equipment.   In addition, a large parts warehouse will also be co-located to enable a more efficient supply chain response for the US Navy’s TH-73 fleet at NASWF as well as for commercial customers operating throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The Leonardo Helicopters Florida Support Center is slated to be completed by the end of 2024

“We are thrilled to break ground at Whiting Aviation Park on Leonardo Helicopters’ new Florida Support Center” said Clyde Woltman, Chief Executive Officer of Leonardo Helicopters US. “With this modern and highly efficient facility, Leonardo Helicopters will be able to bring its industry-leading product support services even closer to our customers. We would not be here today if not for the constant partnership and support of the State of Florida, Space Florida, Santa Rosa County, Triumph Gulf Coast, and the United States Navy.  

Leonardo first announced its intention to build a helicopter support center at Whiting Aviation Park in 2019, if its aircraft was selected for the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Helicopter Training System, the Navy’s comprehensive program to replace its aging fleet of TH-57 “Sea Rangers” that operate from NASWF.  In January of 2020, the United States Navy selected a variant of the Leonardo AW119, now named the TH-73 “Thrasher”, to serve as the primary training aircraft for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard as well as other allied nations.   The first aircraft was delivered to the US Navy in June of 2021 and in July, with the support of Santa Rosa County and Triumph Gulf Coast, Leonardo opened a temporary hangar at Peter Prince Airport to gain its FAA Part 145 certification and begin repair work while a larger, permanent facility was being designed and developed at Whiting.  Since that time, Leonardo has hired 19 full time employees in Santa Rosa County.   

“Space Florida’s unwavering commitment to expanding the spaceport system in Florida has set a course for a new era of exploration and innovation,” said Frank DiBello, president and CEO, Space Florida. “Adding Leonardo Helicopters to our aerospace sector propels us toward a future where Florida is the leading force for a global aerospace economy.”  

To better serve the needs of this fleet and more than 1,000 Leonardo aircraft that are operating throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Central America, the Company worked closely with partners at Santa Rosa County and Space Florida to select a site at Whiting Aviation Park, a commercial aviation park immediately adjacent to NASWF, for its new comprehensive customer support facility.   Located on 267 acres of industrially zoned land owned by Santa Rosa County, the Whiting Aviation Park features a “first of its kind” limited access use agreement between Santa Rosa County and the US Navy, allowing tenants of the park to have access to NASWF’s 6,000 ft. runway and air traffic control.   Working with its partner Space Florida, Leonardo will be investing over $65,000,000 into the construction, fit-out and tooling for this new facility.