Small Connecticut Aerospace Players Look For Big Opportunities In Paris | Connecticut Public Radio

Small Connecticut Aerospace Players Look For Big Opportunities In Paris

Jun 20, 2017

Fourteen small Connecticut aerospace companies are exhibiting their wares at the Paris Air Show this week. They join thousands of other businesses at the world’s biggest industry showcase. 

All the major players -- the big airlines, aircraft companies, and engine makers -- strut their stuff at the European air show each year, showing off new products and making billions of dollars in deals.

“In all honesty, aerospace is a bit like a club," said Clive Cunliffe of New England Airfoil. "Everybody knows everybody, and you have to have that personal interface.”

Cunliffe's adopted company is a tiny business of just under 60 employees in Farmington. They too will be in Paris, courtesy of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development, which each year takes a booth at the air show.

Cunliffe said for him and the 13 other small Nutmeg companies sharing that stand, the results in terms of sales will be tangible.

“Inquiries that come in through the air show can take one to even three years to incubate, but unless you’ve got a presence at the Air Show, you’re not seen as a serious player in the aerospace business,” he told WNPR.

New England Airfoil itself was a failing business just a couple of years ago, when Italian forging company Pietra Rosa stopped by the Connecticut booth at the air show, looking to discuss gaining a foothold in North America.

Talks at the show eventually led to Pietra Rosa buying and reviving the Farmington-based company, which is now growing and adding employees.

DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said boosting Connecticut’s aerospace supply chain is a good investment for the state.

“We’ve seen as many as a billion dollars of sales be made in one individual year from the companies we take with us," she said. "Last year I believe the number was right about $400 million, so this is a really productive opportunity for these companies.”

The Air Show runs through Saturday at Le Bourget, just outside Paris.