About 60 new jobs will be coming to Cobham Mission Systems in Davenport when the company closes a St. Petersburg, Fla., facility.

According to the company, there are about 160 employees at Cobham St. Petersburg and about 120 positions will transfer to the company’s Davenport and Orchard Park, N.Y., plants, split about evenly between the two.

The St. Petersburg plant manufactures air crew and ground vehicle-crew safety and survivability products for the aerospace and defense market, primarily sold directly to the U.S. government and major aerospace/defense prime contractors.

Gordon Abele, general manager of the Davenport plant, said Friday that the transition will begin right away.

“We had about 400 employees in 2010 and I believe we will have about 600 people by the end of this year,” he said. “We are still working out detail schedules, but I believe we will start recruiting immediately. Some jobs we need to have people in place immediately. But in total, all 60 jobs will be in place by the end of this year.”

He said 60 people from the Florida plant will be offered transfers here. But assuming some may decide against transferring, Abele said some of those 60 positions could be new hires.

The new jobs will include hourly and salaried workers, from engineers and assembly personnel to human resource employees. Salary ranges were not available Friday.

Cobham Mission Systems, formerly Carleton Life Systems, is a supplier of aerospace and defense systems. The plant at 2734 Hickory Grove Road manufactures oxygen and nitrogen systems for military applications and cryogenic coolers.

Abele said manufacturing equipment from Florida will be shipped to Davenport for the products that will be new to this facility. Abele said his plant has been working on clearing about 20,000 square feet and “modernizing it” to accommodate the new assembly area.

He said Cobham will begin working with the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, the city of Davenport and the state of Iowa to assist employees and the company in the transition.

“We will help them explore state and local incentives, training programs, relocating people,” said Bill Martin, the chamber’s senior vice president, economic development. “In the last 10 years, they have added about 250 people there. That proves the Quad-Cities is a location that is productive for Cobham. They are big. They have plants all over the world. It is great to have them in the region.”

“Today’s announcement by Cobham is great news for Davenport and the Quad-City area,” U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said in a news release. “These are good jobs that will be a boost for the Quad-City economy and families.”

In the past two years, Cobham’s Davenport plant has secured several major contracts. In February 2011, Cobham was selected by Boeing to provide hose and drogue aerial refueling systems for use on the KC-46A tanker aircraft. Cobham representatives said at the time that the value of the contract, through 2028, is estimated to be $1 billion.


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