A Knight Aerospace cabin is loaded into a C-130J aircraft at Kelly Field.
A Knight Aerospace cabin is loaded into a C-130J aircraft at Kelly Field. Credit: Courtesy / Knight Aerospace

A San Antonio-based aircraft interiors business, having outgrown its current facility, will establish new headquarters at Port San Antonio rather than moving the company and its jobs out of town.

Knight Aerospace is relocating to a 1,900-acre industrial site at Port SA where it will have the capacity to meet the growing demand for its sophisticated aircraft interior units. The company, which currently is located on the West Side off U.S. Highway 90, plans to more than double its current workforce of 40 and expects to employ 100 people at its new facility by the end of next year.

The move was announced at a City Council meeting Wednesday at Port SA.

The site on Port SA’s Southwest 36th Street will also give the company better access to the industrial airport at Kelly Field for product delivery to its clients, including the United States military and customers in more than 25 countries.

“We are honored to have one of San Antonio’s leading aerospace pioneers call our campus home,” said Jim Perschbach, Port SA president and CEO. “Here they will find a flexible platform and the full support of our team to help them make important connections – from connecting to our community’s talent and innovators to connecting with clients across the nation and around the world.”

But Port SA wasn’t the only site in the running as Knight Aerospace saw the need for more space and its existing lease in a building on South Acme Road was coming to an end. A spokeswoman for the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) said a Knight Aerospace customer had been pushing the nearly three-decade-old company to consider relocation to North Texas.

The Foundation’s business retention and expansion program, a team made up of representatives from both the public and private sector and led by SAEDF, assisted Knight Aerospace in securing the new location – 80,000 square feet of space in a former Air Force building at Port SA.

The company did not receive any economic incentive deals to remain in San Antonio.

Founded in San Antonio in 1992, Knight Aerospace designs and fabricates specialized self-contained units – modular and palletized systems that can be installed in the types of aircraft that are able to reach areas where temporary or compromised runways cannot accommodate commercial aircraft. These are important during military and humanitarian relief missions.

“With our upcoming facility at the Port, we will have the necessary room, flexibility, and strategic support to build upon this success, meet our clients’ needs and tap into a world of new opportunities,” stated Bianca Rhodes, Knight Aerospace president and CEO.

Knight Aerospace produces medical modules that can be rolled into an aircraft to transform its function from cargo plane to a mobile emergency room, for example. Such modules allow medical teams to stabilize and treat patients while in flight – even perform surgery – and are used to care for military service members wounded in combat as well as disaster victims.

This rendering shows the interior of a modular emergency room that is loaded onto aircraft.
This rendering shows the interior of a modular emergency room that can be loaded onto an aircraft. Credit: Courtesy / Knight Aerospace

Knight Aerospace also builds enclosed passenger units for transporting world leaders and command-and-control personnel systems, and palletized seating kits, similar to the configuration of a commercial airliner with lavatories, galleys, and luggage areas.

The company also produces customized units and provides support equipment for maintenance and repair of aircraft mechanical systems.

“This is another huge win for San Antonio, as we’re retaining and growing an important player in one of our key industry sectors,” said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, SAEDF CEO. “And it is especially gratifying to have been a partner in supporting an enterprise that has deep roots in San Antonio.”

A report released in late 2018 stated that San Antonio’s aerospace industry contributed $3.4 billion to the regional economy during 2017. The industry provided 32,050 jobs in the region, and 10,009 in San Antonio, at an average wage of $78,850.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.