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Staff photo by Mike Pare / A West Star Aviation hanger sits at Chattanooga Airport. The company that specializes in working on business aircraft is looking at an expansion.

Aircraft maintenance business West Star Aviation is seeing bluer skies in 2021 as it navigates one of its best years, and the company is eyeing another expansion in Chattanooga, an official said.

West Star is looking at the building of an additional hangar at Chattanooga Airport, according to the company and an online document.

Also, the Illinois-based company is seeking to add more employees to its existing 199 full-time aviation technicians in Chattanooga.

Debi Cunningham, West Star's vice president of marketing, said there are discussions about expansion in Chattanooga.

"What we believe will happen is that we're going to build a new hangar," she said.

Cunningham said she didn't have details about the size of such a facility or the time frame for its construction.

A posting on a construction website seeking a company for site prep for a future hangar facility for West Star Aviation was recently listed online.

Chattanooga Airport officials declined comment. In the past they've pitched a 13-acre site next to West Star's existing location that formerly held the Tennessee Air National Guard's facility for many years.

Terry Hart, the airport's chief executive, said in 2018 there had been initial conversations with West Star about potential use of the former National Guard land.

At that point, West Star was finishing up a $20 million expansion that consisted of construction of two hangars on the property adjacent to the guard site.

Hart said then West Star wants to get up to 300 or more jobs at the airport.

"I think that space will fit their plans moving forward," Hart said.

For more than 50 years the National Guard unit had called the buildings off the main airport runway its home. In 2010, the members of the 241st Engineering Installation Squadron left for a new facility off Bonny Oaks Drive, and the structures at the airport were demolished.

West Star came to Chattanooga in 2015 when it started operations from an existing hangar on the opposite, or west side, of the main runway from where it's now located. West Star occupies more than 153,000 square feet at the airport.

West Star specializes in business aircraft maintenance, modifications and interior refurbishment for aircraft ranging in size from turbo-props through stand-up class business jets.

Cunningham said that while 2020 and the coronavirus lockdown created a lot of worries for company officials, work remained steady.

"We never had to close any hangars," she said about the company that also has major operations in Illinois and Colorado. "We're very blessed with a good steady amount of work."

Cunningham said 2021 has turned out to be one of the company's best.

"We've had a great 2021," she said. "We couldn't be happier."

Cunningham said Chattanooga is looking to fill more jobs, as the company is trying to do at its other locations.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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