Ayres is opening a new factory in Dothan, Alabama to help produce its Ayres Load'master LM20 cargo carrier, it was announced at the show yesterday.

Construction is due to start shortly once financing is complete. The factory will eventually employ up to 500 people to help the organisation meet demand for the Loadmaster.

Ayres (Stand D225) already has 50 firm orders and 200 options for Loadmasters from Federal Express, and an additional 25 firm orders from other customers.

"The Loadmaster programme is on schedule. We expect the first flight test in early 1999," says Pete Lewis, Ayres vice-president of marketing and sales.

The first Loadmaster for Federal Express is due to be delivered in December 1999 with the company manufacturing between six and eight aircraft a month.

Asian Aerospace '98 has promoted a lot of interest in the Loadmaster.

"We see this as a key market for us with a lot of opportunities," says Lewis.

"We have also had strong interest from operators around the world to our proposed floatplane version, an excellent complement to our basic aircraft cargo configuration."

Source: Flight Daily News