Aircraft maintenance venture West Star Aviation has inked a deal with a key jet-maker that will bring more business to Chattanooga and support the company's $20 million expansion in the city.
West Star expects to add between 50 and 75 more workers this year at its Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport facilities to handle growth, said company spokeswoman Debi Cunningham. West Star already employs 68 people at the airport, she said.
West Star has finalized a service center agreement with private business aircraft maker Embraer Executive Jets for work in Chattanooga, Cunningham said.
"It's new business to Chattanooga," she said. While owners of Embraer jets could have come to West Star in Chattanooga in the past for minor maintenance, now the company has all the approvals for work on the aircraft.
The manufacturer comes to the site and makes sure West Star has all the tooling and manuals and ensures maintenance technicians are trained for the Embraer line, Cunningham said.
"We're in perfect line with the manufacturer," she said.
Brazil-based Embraer, founded in 1969, produces both private business and commercial jets.
Terry Hart, the Chattanooga airport's chief executive, said a paint hangar is first going up at the expansion site on the east side of the main runway. Then a maintenance hangar will be erected, Hart said.
West Star is tripling its footprint at the airport by adding 80,000 square feet of hangar space. It also will have 32,000 square feet of support space, according to Hart.
He said West Star ultimately plans to add 100 jobs with the expansion, the largest by a private company at the airport in at least a decade. West Star plans to keep the 40,000 square feet of space where it was originally located in 2015 on the west side of the runway.
Cunningham said the company wants to continue to grow in Chattanooga and build its facilities to the size of similar operations in East Alton, Ill., and Grand Junction, Colo. The company employs 380 people in Colorado and 300 in Illinois, she said.
The Chattanooga location will provide interior refurbishment, avionics installation and repair, parts services and engine inspections for Embraer aircraft, according to Illinois-based West Star.
The paint shop, projected to open in September, will offer full-service capabilities on Embraer and other aircraft, according to West Star.
Bob O'Leary, Embraer business development manager for West Star, said the deal in Chattanooga now enables the company to accept Embraer customers at all three of its facilities nationally.
"We're dedicated to the continuous growth of our Embraer capabilities," O'Leary said.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.