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Ascent Aviation hangar talks progress

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Ascent Aviation Services is working with other entities to build a new wide-body hangar at the Roswell Air Center for its maintenance, repair and overhaul operations here. (Submitted Photo)

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Groundbreaking for a $25 million hangar for Ascent Aviation Services is expected sometime in spring or early summer 2021, according to Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb and Ascent Aviation President David Querio.

“We are continuing our efforts to put everything in place to support a groundbreaking in line with the timeline that Mr. Neeb has provided,” Querio said. “We are working with a developer to assist us in the build of the hangar. The hangar has been proposed to be large enough to house a B777X (Boeing 777X), which is one of the largest transport category aircraft currently in operation.”

Ascent Aviation, with has operations in Pinal Park and Tucson, Arizona, announced in late September that it wants to expand its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to the Roswell Air Center. Once a new wide-body hangar is complete on about 10 acres on the west side of the airfield, the company expects to hire 100 to 120 aviation mechanics and support staff. Within five years, it expects to have about 360 local employees.

Neeb told city councilors Thursday that the hangar construction is a complicated process because about seven legal entities are involved.

“There will be a land lease with terms, and that will be with the entity that is building the hangar,” Neeb said. “It will be the first time we have allowed or at least discussed or considered the ability to sublease a space on our property.”

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He said other legal agreements that will have to be worked out include a memorandum of understanding between the city and county for the expenditure of state capital outlay funds awarded to the county; a construction agreement with the contractor building the hangar and doing the site improvements; and a professional services agreement with Armstrong Consultants, an engineering firm that will ensure that work is done in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations and city policies.

Funding for the hangar and business expansion is also coming from several different sources. Chaves County is committing $3 million of its state capital outlay funds for infrastructure work; Ascent is putting in an $18 million investment in the business; and the state of New Mexico has pledged $5 million in Local Economic Development Act funds.

“I think when you consider the number of players within the conversation, it is a challenging thing,” Neeb said. “But I think we have a good game plan going into it.”

Mayor Dennis Kintigh told city councilors that they will have to vote on all legal agreements.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.