Hawker Beechcraft opens service facility at Phoenix

 - May 25, 2010, 6:01 AM

Hawker Beechcraft Services (HBS) opened the doors of its southwest U.S. regional service center southeast of Phoenix to the public on April 22 to celebrate the “grand opening” of its aircraft maintenance facility, which began operations in temporary quarters in 2009. The HBS facility at Phoenix- Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA) has been expanded and enhanced in a $14 million project that added to the facility a second 26,000-sq-ft hangar with another 22,000 sq ft of back shops and more compre-hensive customer accommodations.

In an apparent response to California’s high-tax, stringently regulated economic environment and the state government’s near-disastrous financial condition, Hawker Beechcraft has followed Cessna in relocating its Los Angeles-area service center to Arizona. Cessna’s Citation facility, formerly located at Long Beach Municipal Airport (LBG), is now adjacent to the HBS service center on the renovated and upgraded former Williams Air Force Base. Embraer has also located a service facility on the airport. HBS left Van Nuys Airport (VNY) early last year for not only a more friendly business climate but also uncrowded airspace and the former USAF training center’s three 150-foot-wide runways, which range in length from 9,300 to 10,400 feet.

The IWA site is one of eight domestic HBS centers providing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), airframe, avionics, engine and AOG support for the entire Hawker Beechcraft line. It has serviced more than 500 aircraft since it landed at Gateway in January 2009 to begin Phase One of the relocation program. Phase Two, dedicated in April, doubled maintenance capacity while offering more guest office space and meeting rooms with greater utility and amenities. Now with more than 70,000 sq ft under roof, the HBS service facility has hangar space for up to 18 aircraft at a time.

Van Nuys Replacement

Drew McEwen, the new general manager at the IWA location, said it was selected as a replacement for the Van Nuys operation because it offers appeal to Beechcraft operators from not only the entire U.S. but also from throughout
the world. “We’re at a destination airport. Our customers can combine business with vacation activities, which this area has in abundance, not unlike Tampa. While their aircraft are being serviced they can do business while enjoying the golf and many other year-round outdoor activities that Arizona offers.”

Bucking a retrenchment trend prevalent in much of the economy, HBS has a five-year expansion plan for the Arizona service center that includes adding approximately 80 employees, 80 percent of them technicians, to the 32 currently staffing the site. McEwen noted that Hawker Beechcraft has been “spending money to expand and improve our services even when aircraft sales weren’t moving.” HBS has also opened a facility in Indianapolis, the newest in the Hawker Beechcraft network of factory-owned service centers.

Mesa mayor Scott Smith noted that aerospace is a major component in the city’s economic strategy and that the HBS facility is a key piece in the revitalization of IWA, which languished in near idleness for several years after the Air Force pulled out around 1990.