Middle River unit gets contract Air Force repair pact is part of turnaround at Lockheed subsidiary

February 15, 1997|By Greg Schneider | Greg Schneider,SUN STAFF

Spring may seem a long way off, but life is stirring at Lockheed Martin Corp.'s historic aircraft facility in Middle River.

The sometimes beleaguered factory has struck a pair of significant business deals this month and opened a metal-working shop in Florida.

"It is a spurt of activity and it's not necessarily attributable to any one thing," said Michael DiMauro, spokesman for the Lockheed Martin Aerostructures unit.

The strength of the parent company and the surge in commercial aviation, all contribute to the trend, DiMauro said.

This week, the company won a $15.3 million contract from the Air Force to overhaul thrust reversers on C-5 transport planes.

The job could grow in value, and could create new jobs at the Middle River plant, depending on how quickly the work comes in, DiMauro said.

The facility's Center for Aircraft Maintenance can repair and maintain thrust reversers.

The maintenance center is adjacent to the factory where workers have built more than 3,600 thrust reversers over the last 20 years. The devices are the engine component that makes a jet slow down upon landing.

Much of the maintenance center's business comes from commercial airlines. The Air Force job is a significant new contract, DiMauro said.

The other new venture also involves the maintenance center. The facility has entered into a partnership agree-

ment with Romaero S.A. of Romania to establish an airplane maintenance and overhaul facility in that country.

Lockheed Martin will contribute equipment, technology and expertise to a shop run by the Romanians in return for a percentage of the profits, DiMauro said.

Located in Bucharest, the facility will service thrust reversers in Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.

Florida plant

Finally, the Aerostructures unit broke ground early this week for a metal fabricating plant in Pinellas, Fla. The 200,000-square-foot facility will employ about 200 workers.

While it reports to Aerostructures in Middle River, the new metal shop will provide parts for all Lockheed Martin business units -- starting with work on F-16 fighter planes and eventually including parts for C-130 air transports, F-22 stealth fighters and more.

Trying to incorporate such work into the Middle River plant would have required retooling, DiMauro said. He said the new metal shop helps make up for the impact of another Florida facility the corporation recently closed.

All the developments are welcome news at the Middle River plant, which had been the subject of closure rumors after the Lockheed-Martin merger.

Once employed 53,000

Middle River was headquarters for the old Glenn L. Martin Co., and has seen its employment dwindle to a fraction of its World War II peak of 53,000 workers.

The plant now employs just over 1,100 people, a number that is higher than the 950 workers management had expected to have on the payroll in forecasts last year, DiMauro said.

Pub Date: 2/15/97

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