FINANCING FOR production of the Swearingen SJ30 light business-aircraft is now in hand, allowing ground to be broken this month for the final assembly plant at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg.

SJ30 production is made possible by the formation of a joint venture between San Antonio, Texas-based Swearingen Aircraft and Sino Aerospace Investment, which includes Taiwan Aerospace (TAC), the Chinfon Group, President Enterprises, Tontex and United Microelectronics.

The deal, which is worth over $150 million, was finalised in late April. Taiwan is contributing $48 million in its first aerospace investment in the USA. The plant will employ 800 workers.

The joint-venture was brokered by Lockheed Martin as part of its $600 million offset commitments, from the sale of 50 F-16 fighters to Taiwan. Lockheed is providing technical and management assistance and $10 million in cash, but is not a shareholder in the 50:50 partnership.

US certification and initial customer deliveries of the eight-place Williams Rolls-Royce FJ44-powered SJ30 is expected 26 months from now. TAC will provide the SJ30's fuselage and wings. The empennage will be built in either West Virginia or Taiwan.

Swearingen says that it holds firm orders for more than 60 SJ30s, representing a two-year production backlog. Peak output will be eight aircraft a month.

Source: Flight International