Huntsville called “Rocket City” but rotorcraft industry growing continually as well

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville is already called the Rocket City, though the rotorcraft industry is continually growing in and around the area as well.

"From an acquisition standpoint, certainly Huntsville is the largest player," Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center's Director, David Arterburn, said. "Sikorsky, Boeing are here but also many of the suppliers for those organizations for avionics such as Rockwell Collins, and other support organizations are here."

 Arterburn said the industry is centered around the Program Executive Office Aviation which manages all the acquisition for rotorcraft within the army.
"There's also a significant research and development activity here at Redstone that is part of the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center," Arterburn said.
Because of the acquisition programs, there's a lot of opportunity for engineering support jobs. This is good news for students like James Clemens High School Student Austin Sparks.
"I'd honestly like to go into the air cav, fly the helicopters, get those guys to their deployment spots then back home safely," Sparks said.
Experts believe the windows of opportunity within the rotorcraft industry here in Madison County will continue to open.
"What's really interesting and what's exciting now is, the future vertical lift program which is going to fundamentally change the capabilities and really extend the future of Army Aviation," Arterburn said. "To increase the range, speed, and carrying capacity to move the army so it can be faster and move across greater distances across the battlefield."
Arterburn said 58 UAH students are already gaining experience in the field through working with Boeing Huntsville Design Center.  He adds that the unmanned system capabilities are growing along with the rotorcraft industry. Arterburn said the program manager for all procurement of army unmanned systems is at Redstone Arsenal.