Historically speaking ...

August 21, 2005

The following is a timeline of significant events since Sino Swearingen announced plans to open a facility near Martinsburg, W.Va.

February 1992 - Swearingen says it's interested in opening a plant at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg, prompting the Martinsburg Airport Authority to ask for $1.2 million to build a 90-acre industrial park at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

September 1992 - Officials announce Swearingen will locate a parts plant and a manufacturing plant for its new line of corporate jets in Martinsburg, bringing 400 jobs in the first year and as many as 1,000 jobs within six years. The plane would sell for $2.8 million, officials said. Airplane designer Ed Swearingen said he picked Martinsburg after state officials said they would help put together a $130 million financing package, including $7 million in state loans and financing. Company officials say the first planes will roll off the assembly line by next year.


October 1992 - The first 25 workers are hired for the Swearingen plant from a pool of 10,000 applicants. The new employees are expected to spend six months training at the company's San Antonio, Texas, plant.

March 1993 - State officials say that the state's Jobs Investment Trust Board - which already loaned Swearingen $2 million - will loan the company another $2 million to help pay for construction of a plant in Martinsburg. The company also receives $20 million in startup loans from West Virginia banks. The company is to break ground in the spring.

August 1993 - Swearingen officials, who had received $4 million in loans from a state agency, refuse to commit in writing to creating 250 jobs at the proposed Martinsburg facility.

March 1994 - The West Virginia Legislature votes to extend a deadline for Swearingen to repay the first installment of a $2 million state loan while the company continues its search for financing. Without the extension, the state could foreclose on the company.

August 1994 - The state appoints a consultant to monitor Swearingen's progress on bringing a jet manufacturing plant to Martinsburg. The company's first payment on a $2 million loan is due in September.

October 1994 - Swearingen repays a $2 million loan to the state, one of two $2 million loans the state made. State and federal officials say a partnership between Swearingen and a Taiwanese company is being finalized and plans are moving forward to build a $130 million jet manufacturing plant in Martinsburg.

January 1995 - FAA official says the Swearingen jet has been submitted for certification several times since 1986, but time and money have stalled final approval. Ed Swearingen, the jet designer, says the plane will receive certification in 26 months and the company will begin manufacturing the jet in Martinsburg. Swearingen joins U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Gov. Gaston Caperton in Martinsburg to sign a financing and partnership agreement with Sino Aerospace Investment Corp., a Taiwanese company, to form Sino-Swearingen LP.

April 1995 - Representatives of Swearingen Aircraft and Sino-Swearingen Limited Partnership sign 345 different documents in Dallas, sealing a deal to build the corporate jet in Martinsburg. Officials say it will be two years before the first plane is built.

March 1996 - Ground is broken at the airport for the Swearingen plant.

December 1996 - A Sino Swearingen official says the firm plans to open its manufacturing plant in Berkeley County in November 1997, but is awaiting FAA approval for its new jet. He says the company will begin building jets in 1998.

November 1997 - Construction is finished on the company's plant at the John D. Rockefeller IV Science and Technology Center, a business/industrial park adjacent to Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg.

July 2000 - Sino Swearingen officials unveil a new, redesigned version of the company's SJ30-2 business jet in Texas. U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller and company officials say the jet still is on track to be manufactured in Martinsburg. The West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust converts an outstanding $2 million to Swearingen into a 2 percent ownership of the company.

December 2000 - Jack Braley, president and chief executive officer of Swearingen, tells a Martinsburg Rotary Club gathering that the airplane manufacturer expects to produce its first $4.8 million, six-passenger SJ30-2 jet by the end of 2001 and to employ more than 400 workers by 2003.

March 2002 - Parts for the fuselage and wings of the Sino Swearingen jet plane are being manufactured at the company's Berkeley County plant, a company spokesman says.

September 2002 - In a management shake-up, Sino Swearingen names Carl Chen as the company's new president and chief operating officer.

April 2003 - The chief test pilot of the SJ30-2, Carrol Beeler, is killed when the Swearingen jet crashes after entering an unrecoverable roll during a test flight.

May 2004 - The Martinsburg plant completes and ships its final component for the first airframe structure produced there.

August 2005 - Company president and CEO Carl Chen says 188 buyers have ordered the $5.5 million planes; the company has a work force of 135 people. Sino Swearingen becomes the first new company in 35 years to receive final Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) from the FAA for its SJ30-2 jet. The company says it needs help from the state to help pay salaries and moving expenses for new employees.

Compiled from Herald-Mail archives, Sino Swearingen Web site, the Associated Press, San Antonio Business Journal and aircraft industry publications.

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