Paul Jackson of Sikorsky Aerospace Services announced on Tuesday that they have re-opened the search for a location to situate its new Training Academy for military helicopter pilots, crews and maintainers. Sikorsky had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last October to establish the advanced flight and maintenance training academy in Altus.
“Our initial effort to work with a project manager in Oklahoma has not panned out,” said Jackson, “but we are still very much interested in the state. Establishing and successfully operating the Training Academy remains a priority for Sikorsky.” Sikorsky had been working with Aviation Training Consulting (ATC) of Altus.
When asked about the exact reasoning for the decision to move out of Altus, Jackson told the Altus Times, “As a matter of practice we don’t publicly discuss our private business dealings.”
The group was thought to launch the Altus academy in the near future, and said that choosing Altus provided the training academy with access to several hundred square miles of operating space, certified landing areas, and certified night vision routes. Additionally, Altus weather conditions are well suited to flight training schedules.
State Senator James Inhofe said today, “Only a week before breaking the contract, Sikorsky told me and my staff that the complications were being worked out for the contract to remain in Altus. I’m very disappointed by Sikorsky’s final decision.” He went on to say, “I said in October of last year that Sikorsky couldn’t be joining a better community in Altus and I stand by that statement today. Altus is a strong supporter and caretaker of the defense community and the company would have greatly benefited from this location.”
While searching for a new location, Sikorsky said they will honor current customer agreements by opening a temporary facility near their campus in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Aside from confirming on Tuesday that Sikorsky had decided to not place their training facility in Altus, Aviation Training Consulting of Altus said, “There is no further comment from ATC at this time.”