FAA approves aircraft maintenance facility in Lake Charles

AAR Corp. has received Federal Aviation Administration approval to begin operating a previously announced aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Lake Charles.

Chicago-based AAR initially will employ 250 people at the facility, located at Chennault International Airport. It expects to employ an additional 500 by 2017 as it ramps up operations across about 520,000 square feet of service and administrative space. The facility can accommodate up to seven wide-body or 10 narrow-body aircraft. Construction is underway for an additional 118,000 square feet of hangar space.

AAR also operates a parts logistics and distribution center at Chennault airport in support of the U.S. Air Force’s KC-10 program as part of a team led by Northrop Grumman.

The new facility, which expands AAR’s capabilities for servicing wide-body aircraft, becomes the sixth hub in the company’s network of maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities. The others are in Indianapolis; Miami; Oklahoma City; Duluth, Minn.; and Hot Springs, Ark. The company employs more than 6,000 people in 17 countries.

Louisiana committed $17.5 million toward construction of the $21.5 million hangar.

The state’s incentive package also included a performance-based grant of $2 million to reimburse capital investments in tooling and other equipment at Chennault and access to the state’s workforce training program. AAR also is expected to use the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

The state also will partner with the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance to establish a national Aircraft MRO Center of Excellence to train employees for AAR and other aviation service providers in the region, such as Northrop Grumman.

The state will provide $3.7 million for mostly basic instructional equipment and the curriculum.