Blytheville company storing planes during COVID-19 pandemic

Blytheville company storing planes during COVID-19 pandemic

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Instead of B-52s flying into the old Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville, commercial and cargo planes are landing on the tarmac.

As people continue to heed warnings of not traveling due to COVID-19, airplanes are now sitting idle across the country.

Aviation Repair Technologies store and repair planes for entities like commercial airlines.

According to Anthony Saumell, vice president of operations, the company has been in Blytheville for 12 years and provides everything from storage, maintenance, and end-of-life management for airplanes.

During normal times, Saumell said they store planes, take care of them in what is called long and short-term storage, and they disassemble aircrafts.

“We have a structure shop and a composite shop which takes care of all the radomes, wings, flaps on the aircraft and then we have a component shop which is very active,” Saumell said.

Normally, there are around 30 to 40 airplanes at the facility, but right now, there are 60 at ART, with the capability of storing up to 125 planes.

Saumell said the Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority has been more than helpful allowing them to use more space to store planes.

“The airport authority, first of all, has helped out by extending all of the ramp space that they have. If you notice, we have airplanes on the alert pad, we have it on the old Army Air Force runway. They’ve been more than, very helpful in allowing us to allocate more airplanes and more space for those airplanes,” Saumell said.

When it is all said and done, Saumell expects to see close to 100 planes being stored in Blytheville.

He expects the planes to stay at the facility for at least the next two months.

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