May 21, 2018

UTAS adding services in Windsor Locks

The former Hamilton Sundstrand complex, now part of UTC Aerospace Systems, is moving toward fulfilling its part of a multiyear agreement with the state to retain and expand facilities in return for tax incentives offered to corporate parent, United Technologies Corp., company officials say.

In 2014, UTC, based in Farmington, agreed to invest at least $500 million in its Connecticut operations in return for $400 million in tax incentives.

The UTC Aerospace Systems Customer Response Center is now in operation, UTC spokesman Bradford Drazen said. The center is the focal point for UTAS customers dealing with its equipment in aircraft on the ground, as well as general support and technical product inquiries, Drazen said.

"The center's staff is available at all times to respond to in-service technical issues and repair support needs related to UTAS components and systems," he said.

The new operation is separate from the UTAS Aerostructures Communication Center, which provides customer support with engine enclosures, known as nacelles, and related equipment.

The planned Customer Training Center, still under development, will provide training "to strengthen customer aircraft maintenance programs, increase the effectiveness of their operations, and protect the integrity and reputation of UTAS products across the industry," Drazen said.

The company in 2016 also opened an $8 million Materials and Processing Engineering Laboratory in Windsor Locks. The lab encompasses about 20,000 square feet and features 3D-printing capability, also known as "additive manufacturing," which is used to produce metal and plastic engineering development parts.

Also still to come, Drazen said, is the completion of office space renovations, additional improvements to engineering labs, and "more improvements to manufacturing capabilities at the site."

Altogether, the state-backed projects in Windsor Locks encompass 500,000 square feet, according to the state agreement, which calls for them to be completed by 2019.

The Windsor Locks operation was folded into UTAS in 2012 as part of UTC's $18 billion acquisition of Goodrich Corp. Seventy-five former Hamilton executives moved from Windsor Locks to UTAS' headquarters at the former Goodrich base in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Although Windsor Locks is not the headquarters for UTAS, it is the largest single operation, with more than 3,500 employees. The facility covers 280 acres and has 1.2 million square feet of building space.

The plant supports UTAS' Space Systems operation, which supplies environmental control and life-support systems for programs including the International Space Station.

It also encompasses UTAS' Engine & Control Systems operations, which provide jet-engine controls, accessories, gearboxes, and start systems.

UTC's agreement with the state, the Connecticut Aerospace Reinvestment Act, additionally called for retaining UTAS' corporate sibling Pratt & Whitney's world headquarters in East Hartford for at least 15 years, while expanding the adjacent United Technologies Research Center.

UTC in 2017 completed a 50,000-square-foot expansion of the research center, which is UTC's central research and development operation for all of its subsidiaries, including Pratt, Carrier Corp., UTAS, and Otis Elevator.

Also last year, Pratt opened the company's new $180 million Engineering and Technology Center in East Hartford, where engineers develop new aerospace propulsion designs.

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