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Aviation company gets job funding

General Airframe Support built this hangar on West Challenger Street after relocating its main office at the Roswell Air Center in fall 2017. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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General Airframe wants to hire up to 16 more people

A local aviation services company with growth plans has received state funding to expand its workforce.

The New Mexico Job Training Incentive Program board decided Friday to provide $169,062 in wage reimbursements to General Airframe Support Inc. so that it can hire another 16 people, said company president Isaac Sheets, and Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.

The funding award also included $1,250 in audit fees, for a total of $170,312.

The EDC helps area companies present their funding requests to the state program, which is part of the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The Job Training Incentive Program reimburses a portion of the wages for new hires as they train in their positions. It also will reimburse wages for existing personnel for training to take on new responsibilities.

“We anticipate getting a good solid 14 to 16 people in here this year,” Sheets said, “and just expanding the city’s capabilities, giving our clients some more options.”

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General Airframe Support began business in March 2013 with headquarters in Arizona, but it relocated its main business facilities to the Roswell Air Center in fall 2017, building a new hangar on West Challenger Street.

The company reclaims parts from aircraft so that it can resell them. Some work involves simple component removal, but the company also does complete teardowns and disposals of the planes, according to documents provided the state.

Sheets said the company is applying for a Federal Aviation Administration Part 145 certification that will allow it to preserve and store planes, as well as perform “return to service” maintenance on parked aircraft that are either resold or put back into use by the original owners. He said he expects to have the new FAA certification in about four to six months, after he completes work to the company’s hangar.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in more than 500 commercial aircraft being stored at the Air Center that now will either be scrapped, repaired and resold, or returned to service.

Sheets said he expects to bring an additional 100 to 150 aircraft to the Air Center for storage within 18 months, with 50% of those returned to service and 50% reclaimed for parts.

To prepare for expected growth and new clients, the company wants to hire 10 certified aircraft mechanics and six inspectors. Wages will start at $13 an hour and go as high as $35 an hour for experienced inspectors. The average wage would be about $24 an hour. Sheets said he also was given authority to hire some sales staff.

He explained that the state requires the employees covered by the program to be New Mexico residents for at least a year. He said the state will reimburse up to 65% of wages for people earning less than $19 an hour and 70% of wages for people earning more than that.

“Realistically, I will be hiring at the higher wage because of the competition here,” he said. “If I want to get skill, I will have to pay for it.”

General Airframe is also in the process of building a new teardown pad, sometimes called a crunch pad. It will be located in the southeast portion of the airfield. Sheets described it as “top of the line” and “state of the art.”

The pads are used to disassemble and scrap planes, and Sheets said the one his company is building will have a collection tank for liquids and an engine that will evaporate the water. The oil recovered will then be reused to heat the company hangar, he said. Sheets added that he anticipates about 70% of the teardown customers at the airfield will use the new pad.

“We are trying to add value to our town,” Sheets said. “We have good vendors here, but competition is always good.”

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

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.