Sonora Aerospace Industry Cluster Takes a Big Step Forward

July 30th, 2011 by Wendy Vittori

The State of Sonora has recently announced an agreement with Rolls-Royce to collaborate to develop the Rolls-Royce supply chain in the State of Sonora.  The announcement was made at the Paris Air Show in June, 2011.

According to information released by the Economic Development Council of Sonora (COPRESON), the key focus of this long-term collaboration will be to support the development of an aerospace manufacturing cluster in Sonora.  The significance of the announcement was immediately underscored by a second announcement:  the commitment by thermal processing specialist Bodycote, of Waterbury, Connecticut and its aerospace and defense division in Dallas, Texas, to build a vacuum heat-treatment facility in Empalme, Sonora.  Bodycote stated that the plant will provide services for the Sonora plant of U.K.-based Trac Precision, a supplier to Rolls-Royce and Siemens.  According to Bodycote, the Empalme plant, which is scheduled to open in the third quarter of this year, is the first of its kind in the region, and will also offer services to other aviation manufacturers in the region.

This announcement will make the manufacturing of a much broader range of aerospace components – ones that require the heat treating process – much more cost-effective to develop in Sonora.  Sonora was an early leader in the aerospace industry in Mexico, and currently has over 30 aerospace companies operating in the state, primarily in the Empalme-Guaymas area.  This thriving area in the central part of the state has long been a manufacturing center – it is the home of Maquilas Tetakawi, one of the largest shelter maquiladoras in Mexico (a shelter maquiladora provides all the Mexico-related support services for manufacturers).  It also hosts a deepwater seaport and excellent rail and road connections.

From the standpoint of Arizona’s aerospace industry, this development across our border in Sonora opens new opportunities for collaboration and global competitiveness, for the companies, education institutions and  the people of both states.  The combination of talents and capabilities in the aerospace and defense industries in the Arizona-Sonora region is competitive with any other location in the world.


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