Commercial Jet to open Dothan heavy maintenance facility

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Commercial Jet will triple its maintenance capacity with a new 400,000 ft2 (37,161 m2) facility in Dothan, Alabama, which previously housed Pemco's maintenance operations before the company moved out of the facility last year.

The maintenance provider says that increased demand for passenger-to-freighter conversions drove the need for expansion. Commercial Jet performs those conversions in Miami as an authorised conversion centre for Aeronautical Engineers (AEI).

"Now, we can run many more conversion and maintenance lines with ample ramp area for parking and preparing aircraft to bring into the hangars," says Commercial Jet president David Sandri in a statement. "We are also adding a purpose built paint hangar which adds to the range of services we can deliver."

The facility, located at Dothan Regional Airport, will undergo a $12 million renovation in stages and include multiple hangars, backshop capabilities and apron space.

The renovation is set to be complete by October, but the MRO plans to start repairing aircraft at the facility as soon as next month.

"We are already getting a flow of new orders for our new facility, which will be open for business as soon as May of this year," says John Schildroth, vice-president and general manager for the facility. The maintenance facility plans to hire "several hundred" technicians in the next few years.

Commercial Jet operates a 177,000 ft2 facility at Miami International Airport and says that facility is at full capacity. It has space to perform six heavy maintenance checks simultaneously.

AEI received US Federal Aviation Administration approval for its Boeing MD-80SF in February and said it had a backlog of 20 aircraft conversions split between five operators with a market for more than 100 of the aircraft type in the next decade. Demand is also growing for Boeing 737-300 and -400 passenger-to-freighter conversions, Sandri says.

Pemco closed the facility last June as part of its restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which it filed for last March. It has since emerged from bankruptcy after filing and continues to operate a facility in Tampa and has a partnership in Asia.