Sierra Nevada could more than double in size at Dayton airport if it wins bid

The company’s first hangar opened this year

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Sierra Nevada Corp. is bidding on projects that would lead to a major expansion at the Dayton International Airport, where the company opened its first aviation maintenance and overhaul hangar in February, said Mark Williams, senior vice president of strategy.

“If we win the big opportunity, that will turn into four of those type hangars plus North America’s largest emissions-free paint hangar,” said Williams. “But that’s all contingent on us winning the business.”

He declined to name the customer or customers, but said the bidding is in final stages and an outcome is expected next year.

“If we win one of these big programs we will be looking at over 500 people,” said Williams, listing jobs that would include engineers, program managers, mechanics, security and administrative positions.

“It’s going to be the whole smash. We would be having to tap into the state of Ohio and its skilled workforce and the universities and colleges for talent,” Williams said. “These are well-paying jobs.”

Sierra Nevada is a 60-year-old Nevada-based aircraft missions systems integrator that focuses on U.S. Defense Department aerospace and aviation work. The company competes against Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, L3 and Leidos, Williams said,

Known as the Aviation Innovation and Technology Center, Williams said the local facility will be the company’s “marquee hub” for aircraft modifications.

The first 100,000-square-foot hangar opened earlier this year and the company has begun some “light work” there, he said, declining to say how many people are currently employed.

A second 100,000-square-foot hangar is under construction to handle the size and quantity of aircraft for the project the company is bidding on. Williams said that hangar was required for Sierra Nevada to even enter the bidding process.

The company has committed to state and local officials to having 150 employees once the two hangars are up and running.

The local operation is not contingent on winning the big bid but projects like that are part of Sierra Nevada’s effort to start focusing on much larger aircraft, the size of 747s and C-5s, he said.

The Dayton airport has the runways and infrastructure necessary to handle those planes and that was part of why Dayton was picked from the 10 sites the company considered, Williams said.

“Our whole goal of building this facility was to get into the largest of aviation projects. We felt that this was a path we needed to take to continue to grow Sierra Nevada Corp.” he said. “Proximity to the customer, with Wright Patterson Air Force Base, (also) played a big role.”

He said Dayton is a strong logistics hub at the crossroads of Interstates 70 and 75, the state has a robust aviation supply chain and he was impressed with how government and development officials at all levels assisted Sierra Nevada as it considered the state.

State and local tax incentives were awarded to the company in the effort to draw it to Dayton.

“I just can’t emphasize enough how much JobsOhio and the Dayton Development Coalition kind of helped push Ohio over the top and I think everybody needs to understand the value they are bringing to the table,” Williams said “They are beating out other states consistently.”

Another aerospace industry win for Dayton came in September, when Joby Aviation Inc. announced plans to build electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for commercial passenger service.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The company expects to invest up to $500 million in the project and create up to 2,000 jobs in a facility capable of delivering 500 aircraft per year, according to a September news release.

Joby selected a 140-acre site at the Dayton International Airport, enough land to support significant further growth over time and build up to two million-square-feet of manufacturing space, the news release said. Construction is expected to start in 2024 and Joby would begin operating the plant in 2025.

Joby plans to use existing nearby buildings to begin near-term operations. Local officials say they believe facilities on or near the airport in Dayton, Union and Vandalia are all under consideration.

The company’s first Ohio jobs are now advertised on the company website, said Oliver Walker-Jones, Joby’s head of marketing, communications and brand.

The airport is already home to PSA Airlines and Wisconsin Air.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

And training for aviation maintenance jobs is now available on airport grounds after Sinclair Community College this month opened its Aviation Maintenance Training Facility in a renovated hangar.

It will provide the latest technology and hands-on experience in aviation maintenance.

“Graduates of this program will be well-positioned for high-paying mechanic and maintenance jobs locally with PSA Airlines, Air Wisconsin, and other airline and aviation companies,” said Gilbert Turner, the city of Dayton’s director of aviation. “This partnership will strengthen the viability of the Dayton region’s air travel economy.”

See our three-day series about the boom in development around the Dayton International Airport

Day One: Development around Dayton International Airport has taken off

Day Two: Sierra Nevada could more than double in size at Dayton airport if it wins bid

Day Three: What they are saying about development on and around the Dayton International Airport

PHOTOS: Flying taxi manufacturer to join Amazon, Crocs, P&G and others near Dayton International Airport

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