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Pratt & Whitney gears up as aerospace industry expands

Around the world, the aerospace industry is expecting to ramp up. Air traffic is predicted to grow 4.5 percent every year for the next 20 years, meaning a need for more than 32,000 new passenger aircrafts to be built.

It's expected to create a production boom, one that Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney is excited to tackle.

"We're going to double in the next three to five years the overall production here in East Hartford,” said Danny Di Perna, Pratt & Whitney senior vice president  for engineering and operations. "It's more important as we ramp up and double, in order to deliver on time, perfect quality to our customers, it's important that the supply chain keep up."

Pratt used to manufacture most of its engines, but nowadays 80 percent is done by smaller companies. It has 800 suppliers worldwide, 200 of which are in Connecticut. That's why a workshop was held Monday: to make those suppliers aware of federal and state support available.

Reps. John Larson, Elizabeth Esty and Rosa DeLauro and Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal spoke to the crowd in East Hartford, all pledging to help and advocate for resources.

Gov. Dan Malloy also voiced his support, saying when he took office the state had a troubled relationship with Pratt & Whitney's parent company, United Technologies Corporation.

"We understood the importance of this relationship and we have reset this relationship," said Malloy. "Now we understand the importance with our relationship with each of you who are located in our state."

Among those suppliers listening was Doug Rose, the founder and president of AeroGear located in Windsor.

"We manufacture gear boxes for jet engines and helicopters,” said Rose.

What started as a one-man operation 30 years ago is now 140 employees and growing. The company exports around the globe.

Rose was glad to attend the workshop. “I just think it’s really encouraging,” he said.

"They have a nickname for this area being 'aerospace ally,' because it's one of the few spots in the world where you have this great cluster of aerospace companies,” said Rose. “It's important the state nurtures that to help us continue to develop and compete globally."

Connecticut suppliers were able to meet with federal and state agencies, including representatives from the Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Small Business Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

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