Nordam in Tulsa keeps growing and growing

Friday, January 16th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Local aerospace giant Nordam keeps boosting its job numbers. The company has nearly finished moving its Texas division to Tulsa, including its highly-successful Radome manufacturing.

Radomes are the protective shells that cover a plane's delicate radar equipment. Nordam also finished building its Radome test-room. News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg got an inside look at the multi-million dollar chamber Friday.

Don't try to make a cell-phone call to someone inside Nordam's Radome test room. From the copper strips on the door seams to special filters on the lights, it's designed to block every last radio wave from the outside world. Hastings Siegfried: "Our intent is to provide a completely free environment of any type of radio waves so we can see exactly what the Radome tests."

What they're testing for is interference, the less the Radome has the better. While it's sealed like a vault, the "inside" of the room has to somehow simulate what it's like for the radar out in mid-air, a beam bouncing all around the room would taint the test results. For that they have hundreds of spikes of foam rubber.

"This allows the frequencies to come in and hit and then just eventually get absorbed." The Radome itself is pretty ingenious. Nordam's patented brand, the Weathermaster, repels water, unlike the older, honeycomb design.

"You pour that same water on the honeycomb and it just goes right into it, where it can freeze. Moisture gets in, the airplane goes to altitude and it breaks over time, the little cells of the honeycomb." Plus, the solid surface of the Weathermaster makes it stronger overall.

Behind Nordam’s Radome sits a very large, very expensive piece of equipment, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. Not surprisingly, Nordam says it controls 80% of the market for Radomes. And with all the gadgets and goodies being offered to today’s passengers, individual planes will have more and more Radomes.

"They're going to be there for e-mail, television, direct TV, satellite connections." Making Tulsa the winner of this shell game.

Nordam says the transfer of the Texas division to Tulsa has created 75 new jobs, more than what they expected. They say they have 100 other new jobs to fill locally, in other parts of the company.