MIDDLE RIVER — Middle River Aerostructure Systems’ name and products may have changed throughout the past 90 years, but some things remain the same.
The company champions commitment to aeronautical excellence and continuously instills a sense of pride within the community.
“It’s really great to be working here knowing the history this place has for not only Baltimore County but the aeronautics industry as a whole. There’s just a lot of great things for this place on the horizon,” Henry Grierson, an engineer at MRAS said at the company’s celebration event this Saturday.
Grierson was one of the employees at MRAS who took his family through the 1.7 million square foot facility where civil and military aircraft has been designed, built and equipped for 90 years.
There were around 300 other family members who attended the celebration where they enjoyed live music, food, rock climbing, fun kids’ activities and a chance to see inside MRAS’s facility. They were also able to witness County Executive Johnny Olszewski present a proclamation to MRAS.
”The Baltimore County Executive office proclaims October 7 as Middle River Aviation Day,” said Olszewski.
”For the past 90 years, Middle River Aerostructure Systems has provided numerous products for engine makers, airplane manufacturers and aircraft operators. The Middle River plant continues to play a vital aviation industry role through the production of jet engine nacelles and aerostructures that are critical for the performance and operational efficiency of flight safety in a wide range of aircraft.”
Olszewski went on to say that MRAS currently provides nearly 900 jobs for salary and hourly employees despite the installment and use of automative machines that help with production of certain engine parts.
MRAS was also praised for its contributions to the community.
”We are incredibly proud to honor this company, not only for being a building block for the Middle River community but for also giving back to the community,” Olszewski said.
MRAS provides scholarships for students at Baltimore County Public Schools, offers internships for students in the community, donates to March of Dimes, Maryland Food Back, Boy Scouts of America and other non profit organizations.
General manager and Vice President of MRAS Frank Dougherty said the company is proud to have been a vital part in the community.
”Today is a milestone because of our connection to the local community for 90 years. As our business progresses forward we see another 90 years of being in these buildings,” Dougherty said.
This year is a milestone year for MRAS not only because of its commitment to the community, but because of its new relationship with ST Engineering, a global technology, defense and engineering group.
Terry Vernes, process engineering and composite manufacturing director for MRAS, said joining ST Engineering was a great decision for the company to make.
”We’ve added about 100 jobs here recently because of ST Engineering. We are rolling out a lot of product every week,” Vernes said.
These products are thrust reversers, which are the breaking systems on jet engines; engine nacelle components, which protect engines and optimize airflow into the engines and reduce noise; and aircraft operators.
MRAS has produced many different aerospace products since Glenn L. Martin started the plant in 1929. With proximity to Washington, D.C. and access to the Chesapeake Bay, Middle River was the perfect location to provided everything Martin’s rapidly growing company required.
One of the first planes to be manufactured at the Martin Company was the Martin M-1130 flying boats which became known as the “China Clippers” in the mid-1930s. The Martin Company continued to make fighter planes, like the Model 167-B4 “Maryland” light bombers and the Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers, during WWII. Many women worked at the plant during the war and were responsible for assembling parts of fighter jets in the machine shops.
Aircraft production at Middle River ended in 1961 as the Martin Company merged with American Marietta to form Martin Marietta. The company then had a new focus on missiles and space projects such as Gemini, America’s second human spaceflight effort.
In the late 1970s the company’s business strategy shifted to research and development of composite technologies in order to adapt to industry demands and changes.
Roughly 20 years later, Middle River Aircraft Systems was born in 1998. MRAS began specializing in jet engine nacelles and their thrust reversers, along with aerostructures for commercial and military applications.
The MRAS worldwide customer base now includes Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, as well as more than 150 commercial airlines and international military services.
MRAS underwent another change this year as it was acquired by ST Engineering, a global technology, defense and engineering group, and was renamed Middle River Aerostructure Systems. MRAS still produces nacelles and aerostructures and now focuses in the use of composite materials.
Dougherty credits the company’s ability to adapt to all the changes it has underwent throughout the years to its employees.
”What has gotten MRAS to where it is today are the people, who in various stages of its growth, built and strengthened its foundation. We are able to look ahead with confidence and set our sight on greater heights as one of the largest aviation manufacturers in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region.”