After deliberations and false starts, US light-jet manufacturer settles on Front Range airport as assembly base

Aviation Technology Group (ATG), developer of the Javelin two-seat very-light jet, has selected Front Range airport in Adams County, Colorado as its manufacturing base after considering several sites in at least three states across the south-west USA.

ATG, which is based in nearby Englewood, said in early 2004 that it was planning to set up production at Albuquerque‘s Double Eagle II airport as part of an incentive plan brokered with the New Mexico state government. However, that deal fell through after negotiations became bogged down over the size of the actual incentives versus those originally promised in earlier talks.

ATG later reopened the site selection competition to new bidders in Colorado and Utah, with the Colorado state government being particularly anxious to keep the manufacturer in-state.

Jane Norton, the lieutenant governor of Colorado who visited ATG in March as part of her role as Colorado’s delegate to the Aerospace States Association, says that the move “brings us closer to meeting our goal of expanding the aerospace industry in Colorado”.

The company has signed contracts to lease two buildings at Front Range that will act as “interim facilities until we build permanent production facilities currently planned for 2009”, says ATG’s chief financial officer Will Schippers.

A total of 5,200m2 (56,000ft2) will be leased at the site, with the first 2,000m2 building being used to make the four conforming certification-test aircraft. The facility will also act as the headquarters for Javelin flight testing.

A second adjacent building, measuring almost 3,200m2, will be used to assemble production aircraft. ATG estimates up to 10 aircraft at a time will be assembled in the building, while up to 150 jobs will be created when the production rate reaches capacity. ATG also expects Javelin variants, including the military trainer version, to be assembled at multiple sites overseas.

ATG is already expanding its headquarters at Centennial Airport in Englewood. The enlarged facilities include two hangars that are being used for research and development of the Javelin.

Eclipse 500 very light jet manufacturer Eclipse Aviation has forged a training partnership with Eastern New Mexico University at Roswell (ENMU-Roswell) and Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI). Eclipse says the agreement will help “prepare students to meet the growing requirements of entry-level aviation manufacturing positions”.

Classes begin in October at the TVI Workforce Training Center Albuquerque and will include assembly and installation techniques, tool usage, blueprint reading and theory of flight and safety.


Source: Flight International