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Swearingin showing off new jet

April 19, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Sino Swearingen will show off its prototype corporate jet at a ceremony Monday morning at the company's Berkeley County production facility.

Test pilots plan to land a pre-production model of Sino Swearingen's new SJ30-2 jet at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport at 11:30 a.m. as part of a luncheon for community leaders, said Sino Swearingen spokesman Mike S. Potts.

The prototype SJ30-2 headed for Martinsburg recently completed 300 hours of flight testing and will be retired when the company assembles a set of new jets that will be used for final federal certification.

The jet is on target for FAA approval by the end of 2000 and the company plans to begin start-up work in Martinsburg by the end of this year, said Potts.

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Sino Swearingen estimates about 300 people will work in Martinsburg to assemble the planes.

Production on the plane has been slowed by design changes to increase its weight limit, but the company has said it is confident the final product will be a financial success.

Sino Swearingen President Jack Braly will be at Monday's luncheon to give community leaders a better idea of the work that will be performed in Berkeley County.

With the prototype jet scheduled to fly to Groton, Conn., for a distributor's open house on Saturday, Sino Swearingen decided a few weeks ago to make a side trip to Martinsburg.

The plane will be flown into Hagerstown on Sunday where it will be kept overnight in a hangar.

The prototype is not licensed to carry passengers and its crew will be restricted to two test pilots and a flight mechanic. A separate plane will carry Sino Swearingen executives to Berkeley County, said Potts.

While the final version will be structurally different from the prototype, Potts said the plane on display Monday will show people what the finished SJ30-2 will look like.

The plane will sell for $4.2 million and will be capable of flying at 560 mph, with the ability to travel 2,875 miles before refueling.

Sino Swearingen has invited a variety of guests to Monday's luncheon, including U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who was instrumental in landing the project for Berkeley County.

A representative in Rockefeller's office said he planned to attend the event but said his schedule for next week has not been finalized.

The head of the Berkeley County Development Authority said he was "very interested" in getting an up-close look at the plane.

"I'm looking forward to seeing it. This is a positive step toward initiating the assembly of aircraft here," said Bob Crawford, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority.

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