Florida Today
October 6, 2008
Wayne T. Price

Comp Air produces a $2.95 million aircraft known as the Comp Air 12. The company is hoping to get accreditation by the Federal Aviation Administration to sell the plane on a widespread basis. (For FLORIDA TODAY)

Comp Air May Open Facility
An aircraft manufacturer is negotiating with Melbourne International Airport officials to lease nearly 24,000 square feet of space starting in January.

Comp Air Aviation LLC, an affiliate of Merritt Island-based Comp Air Inc., is scheduled to announce its likely plans for building a single-engine turboprop airplane at Melbourne International during the annual meeting and convention of the National Business Aviation Association today in Orlando.

The project would create 50 jobs initially as the company works to obtain the necessary accreditation by the Federal Aviation Administration to sell the $2.95 million aircraft, known as the Comp Air 12, on a widespread basis, according to Bill Fedorko, Comp Air's chief operating officer.

If the company's ambitious assembly plan takes off and it ends up building 100 planes a year, the creation of 2,000 jobs by 2012 is a possibility, Fedorko said in a news release.

The six- to 10-seat airplane is currently under development, and company executives estimate that it will cost $150 million to get it certified by the third quarter of 2010. The Comp Air 12 uses a single Honeywell turbine engine and a 5-blade McCauley propeller. A prototype took flight earlier this year.

Fedorko said target markets for the plane are the U.S., Russia, China and India.

"There is incredible demand for luxury executive aircraft in those regions," he said in a statement.

If Comp Air opts for the Melbourne site -- its decision is contingent on state and local incentives, according to the news release -- it will be another coup for the burgeoning aviation industry here.

"This would be yet another major development for Melbourne International Airport and would certainly fuel already heightened interest by suppliers and other aviation-support companies to become part of our fast-growing manufacturing base here," said Richard Ennis, executive director at Melbourne International.

"It also reinforces the role of the airport as a leading economic engine for Brevard County," Ennis added.

In May, Embraer Aircraft Holding Inc. said it selected the airport for a $41 million assembly and showroom for its Brazilian-made jets. That project is expected to create at least 200 jobs.

The 14 acres Comp Air is considering leasing at Melbourne International are off General Aviation Drive on the airport's north side.

Last week in Aviation International News, a monthly trade publication, Ron Lueck, Comp Air's chief executive officer, said he wanted to make the move to Melbourne by January 1.

Comp Air, which currently lists its business address as 900 Airport Road on Merritt Island, would lease space in a Florida Tech hangar until it moves into a new facility.

Contact Price at (321) 242-3658 or wprice@floridatoday.com




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