Sierra Nevada Corporation Receives FAA Award, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics to Open New School

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The prestigious Diamond Aviation Maintenance Technician Award and a new school for aviation technicians highlight the quality and history of aviation and defense industries in the Hagerstown and Washington County, Maryland area.

is only given to a very select few companies in the aviation industry exemplifying their dedication and commitment to safety. It is truly an honor for a company to receive this award.

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Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Integrated Mission Support location was honored recently by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in recognition of its outstanding safety endeavors in 2009. Sierra Nevada Corporation received the FAA’s most prestigious Diamond Aviation Maintenance Technician Award. Sandra McClure of the FAA’s Baltimore Region said the award “is only given to a very select few companies in the aviation industry exemplifying their dedication and commitment to safety. It is truly an honor for a company to receive this award.”

In late 2009, Sierra Nevada Corporation received a contract valued at over $600 million from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The initial base contract is for five Beechcraft 350ER aircraft with four one-year options up to 30 aircraft over the life of the program. Both the FAA award and defense contract highlight not only the success and quality of Sierra Nevada Corporation, but reflect the rapid growth of aviation and defense-related industry surrounding the Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR).

Based in Sparks, Nevada with divisions around the U.S., Sierra Nevada Corporation is known for its technology solutions in electronics, aerospace, avionics, space, propulsion, micro-satellite, aircraft and communications systems for both the private and public sectors.

Hal Lucas, General Manager and Director of Integrated Aircraft Services said “Washington County and Hagerstown are historical aviation centers. The Hagerstown Regional Airport has been a hub of the aviation business since before World War II, so consequently there is an available workforce with a strong background and training in aircraft maintenance and modifications.”

“We are currently over 500 employees and continuing to hire for our diverse group—including buyers, mechanics, technicians, engineers, designers, and support. We also spend millions of dollars among local contractors in the building of parts, materials, and facilities for our operations. The support from the Hagerstown airport combined with available personnel has made our significant growth in the past three years much easier. As we have needed new employees and new facilities, we have found them available in Washington County.”

In other aviation-related news, the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) just announced plans to open a school at HGR in early 2011 to train a local workforce for aviation maintenance technician jobs. PIA director James Mader said “The program is expected to start in January or early February. Each student enrolled in the program will take 16 continuous months of full-time training, with about half in the classroom and the other half in labs, Mader said. Upon graduation, students will be qualified to take FAA exams to become certified Airframe and Powerplant Technicians.”

Both Sierra Nevada Corporation and PIA chose Hagerstown and surrounding Washington County, Maryland for the convergence of a number of critical factors beneficial to business in the aviation/defense industry. First, a lack of available hangar space on the East Coast made HGR an obvious choice with over 100 acres available for commercial development and available runway accessible development sites with Enterprise Zone tax benefits and Foreign Trade Zone designation.

Second, Hagerstown has an established defense presence on the complex which includes 40 defense and aviation firms with over 650 employees. These companies include some of the biggest names in aviation and defense, such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

A final factor contributing to the success of local aviation and defense companies is Hagerstown’s affordable cost of living, quality of life, and outstanding education—all in relatively close proximity to the major metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.

According to Southern Business & Development magazine, Hagerstown-Washington County is one of 20 areas in the Southern United States that feature a robust defense industry. This is attributed to the strong aero/defense presence and growth at HGR.

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