Aviation Company to Bring More Than 300 New Jobs to Blytheville

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Aviation Repair Technologies (ART) will open an airframe and engine repair facility this summer at the Arkansas Aeroplex in Blytheville.  The Florida-based company will invest $20 million in the project, with plans to employ 310 people within three years.  The average salary for those employees will be $20 per hour.

The company's principal activities in Blytheville will include line maintenance, heavy maintenance, jet engine overhauls and other maintenance activities for aircraft such as the CRJ-200 and ATR-72.  ART currently provides maintenance for several operators around the U.S., including Federal Express, Delta Air Lines and American Eagle.

"The $16.9 billion annual airline maintenance market is projected to grow 4.3 percent yearly and this facility is part of our strategy to meet that demand," said Ben Quevado, Sr., chairman of ART and chief executive officer of Aero Maintenance Group (AMG).  "The Arkansas Aeroplex is an excellent headquarters for our operations and the support of the state and local government played an important role in the decision to locate in Mississippi County."

The company plans to use existing hangars and facilities at the Aeroplex, and plans to begin upgrading those facilities within 10 to 14 days.  ART hopes to begin aircraft maintenance work by June.

The Arkansas Aeroplex is a multi-modal transportation facility and is located on the former Eaker Air Force Base.  The facility is now a general airport and industrial park.

Region 8 News will have more information on this story tonight on Region 8 News at Five, and Region 8 News at Six.

(Region 8 News Reporter Brandi Hodges contributed to this report.)