Aerospace and defense technology giant BAE Systems is moving key programs from its control and avionics solutions unit to Austin, with plans to hire 100 people to support the business in the next year.
BAE Systems’ latest move is part of the company’s plan to significantly grow its Austin presence. BAE Systems — which is based in Arlington, Va., and is a subsidiary of UK-based BAESystems plc. — announced in 2020 that it was moving to a new $150 million campus in the Parmer Austin Business Park and planned to double its 700-person Austin staff with hiring across a variety of its divisions. The new 390,000-square-foot facility is capable of accommodating more than 1,400 employees and includes engineering, manufacturing, laboratory and office space.
BAE Systems said with the move of its control and avionics solutions division to Austin, it expects to hire 100 workers by early 2023, with 75 of those hires by the end of this year.
BAE’s control and avionics solutions division is focused on commercial aviation support and serves primarily commercial customers. It oversees the company’s air electrification business, flight control systems, flight deck system, and cabinet management systems.
Mike Crawford, engineering director for BAE’s Controls and Avionics solutions program, said the aviation support division chose Austin because the new facility had the space, capabilities and resources to build out labs needed for the division’s work, and the talent pool to fill out its workforce.
“The growth of our business is really driving our expansion and growth sources, and as we look at the different opportunities and possibilities of where we could expand we really landed on Austin, based on the relevant companies and resources with domain skills that we’re looking for,” Crawford said. “Austin also has strong universities with programs and power systems and controls and it’s a region where people are excited about wanting to live or move.”
While BAE Systems does work for both the military and commercial companies,the company’s current Austin office primarily houses the Countermeasure and Electromagnetic Attack Solutions business area, which mostly does work related to the company’s defense customers
Scott Hatch, managing site director of BAE’s Austin business center, said the division will help bring more commercial-facing work to the new campus.
“The products that we’re talking about here are aerospace aviation, but more at least at this point on the commercial side of flow, it’s going to bring a different technology into the Austin campus, and it’s going to bring a more commercial feel than the traditional US defense that we’ve done here on campus,” Hatch said.
Hatch said the company’s new space has efficiency in mind, with two buildings under a shared roof, allowing for more collaboration between the company’s manufacturing and engineering development. The company has been in the process of moving into the new space over the past couple of months and plans to be fully operational in ithe space by September.
“In terms of attracting and retaining in a competitive market like Austin. It’s a much more modern, more open, more collaborative feel,” Hatch said. “It’s a much different atmosphere. It’s a lot more welcoming than the old campus.”
The company is planning two events in the next few months to help attract applicants. Those will be a technology showcase at Austin-based incubator space Capital Factory and a job fair at its new office in September..
Crawford said the events are designed to give potential applicants a better glimpse into the company.
“BAE Systems has a well-indentified presence in Austin today, but we’re bringing a little bit different view of the system,” Crawford said.
The company is primarily looking to add staffers with engineering, power systems, and high integrity control skills.
“Given the technologies and companies and talent pool that’s in Austin, we believe that those skills are there,” Crawford said.
BAE Systems’ latest growth in Austin adds to a surging defense technology industry in Austin, which has accelerated following the opening of the U.S. Army’s Futures Command headquarters in 2018.
Crawford said over the past three to five years, there’s been a big focus within the aircraft industry around bringing electrification to their markets, and there are a lot of new players in the market as a result of that.
“We’re at this unique crossroads where the aviation market is hungry for bringing electrification and the technologies and products to their space to really support the mission of reducing carbon emissions, footprint, sustainability and really a cleaner form of transportation in the skies,” Crawford said. “It’s a very large opportunity space. From the BAE system point of view, our technologies will have applications in a variety of markets including air transport, regional jets and urban air mobility. It’s really across the board.”