Martin wins $1 billion jet contract Middle River plant to build components

December 02, 1992|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- Martin Marietta Corp.'s Aero and Naval Systems Division in Middle River has been selected by Pratt & Whitney to build more than $1 billion worth of jet engine components, the head of the Baltimore County division told a state legislative committee yesterday.

Joseph D. Antinucci, president of Martin's Middle River operation, said a contract still needs to be negotiated, but added: "They have selected us. There's no ambiguity about that."

Mr. Antinucci was in Annapolis yesterday to testify at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on the state government's role in helping Maryland defense contractors adjust to a peacetime economy.

Maryland is the fifth-most defense-dependent state, with about 6.2 percent of its work force related to Pentagon spending.

The Martin executive said details of its agreement to build jet-engine thrust reversers and the casings that surround the engine would not be available until the end of the year, when a contract is completed. But he said it was "going to be a positive and very big impact" on the company's Middle River operations.

Mr. Antinucci said the potential market value for the thrust reversers could exceed $60 billion over the next 20 years. He said that some preparatory work had already begun at the sprawling complex.

Martin renovated its Baltimore County complex several years ago to accommodate its production of jet engine thrust reversers.

These are units that act like brakes to slow landing jets on the runway by shifting the direction of engine thrust.

The company previously picked up another contract for the same work from Pratt & Whitney and earlier this year landed a $155 million contract from the General Electric Co. for additional thrust reversers.

Martin officials said previously that they wanted to make the Middle River plant the world's leading producer of jet-engine thrust reversers.

About 400 of the roughly 1,800 workers at Middle River are involved in thrust reverser production.

At yesterday's hearing, Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development, called on lawmakers to add about $1 million to the state's Sunny Day Fund to help defense contractors cope with declining military spending.

Mr. Wasserman said the money would be used to help the state obtain part of the approximately $2.6 billion in the current defense bill to help the nation's military-industrial base adjust to new markets.

He said the state funding would be used to leverage defense dollars that could help companies make the transition to commercial markets.

Kelly Overman, a general manager at the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum, told the committee members that such funding could be extremely helpful.

He said he would not want to be in a situation in which the funding went to another company and Westinghouse was forced to play catch-up to compete for new contracts.

Mr. Wasserman noted that the state used $1 million from the fund to lure $4 million from the federal Transportation Department to be used by Westinghouse, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Chrysler Corp. in the development of an electric car.

The state money would go toward helping local Westinghouse subcontractors adjust to making parts for the vehicles.

Joseph J. Alberici, president of Trans-Tech Inc., outlined things he said he thought the state could do to help companies adjust to declining military work.

The head of the Adamstown manufacturer of ceramic telecommunication equipment, which once relied on the Defense Department for 85 percent of its business, called for tax credits for investment in equipment, low-cost financing for expansions, tax relief for start-up companies and training of workers to help in the transition to new markets.

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