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Archive for Thursday, September 9, 1999

AVIATION FIRM MAY LAND IN CITY

September 9, 1999

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Lawrence is one of two finalists for a new aviation systems manufacturing plant and its 75 jobs.

A manufacturer of de-icing systems for general-aviation aircraft is considering Lawrence for a new plant that would pump 67 new jobs into the area.

Lawrence-based Aerospace Systems & Technologies Inc. -- a division of AS&T Ltd., based in Consett, England, -- is mulling plans for a 45,000-square-foot hangar, office complex and manufacturing plant at Lawrence Municipal Airport.

Lawrence is one of two Kansas cities -- Salina is the other -- trying to land the expanded operation, which would provide a total of 75 jobs that pay an average annual salary of $28,093.

AS&T already has eight full-time employees, and two part-timers, working out of a leased hangar at the airport. They handle design, certification, installation and sales for the company's in-flight de-icing systems, which are manufactured in England.

Now that more than 95 percent of the company's sales -- $1.5 million last year and an estimated $5 million in 2001 -- are in the United States, the company wants to move its manufacturing plant across the Atlantic. Kansas is a logical choice because of current employees' familiarity with Federal Aviation Administration regulators in Wichita.

The company plans to invest $800,000 in equipment and would have an annual payroll of $2.1 million.

"We are hopeful that we can work with the city to put together a package that is beneficial to all of us," said Dave Henry, an AS&T engineer and test pilot.

To get there, Lawrence city commissioners are poised to ask the federal government for grants to help defray some of the necessary costs to land the new plant. Among them: an estimated $500,000 to $700,000 for extending sewer lines to the airport, and an undetermined amount to expand the airport's apron around the terminal.

Also up in the air: Who would finance construction of the plant, which the company would seek to lease at low cost with an option to buy. The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce also is looking into ways to put a deal together, and the company expects to announce a decision within two months.

"It is very possible," said Rod Bremby, assistant city manager and the airport's manager.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.



AS&T INC.

Who: Aerospace Systems & Technologies Inc.

What: Design, certification, installation and sales of de-icing equipment for general-aviation aircraft, including the Beechcraft Bonanza, Commander 114, Hawker 125 business jet and Cessna 210 and Citation S-2.

Where: Lawrence Memorial Airport.

Annual sales: $1.5 million in 1998; $5 million in 2001 (est.)

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