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Sino Swearingen to get certification in about a year

December 29, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Thursday that Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation is about a year away from receiving the regulatory agency's overall full production certification for a business jet that partially is manufactured in Berkeley County.

"The FAA has approved the production inspection system (known as APIS) for the SJ30 model, which is the first step towards full production approval, which is about a year away," said Roland Herwig, an FAA spokesman for the agency's Southwest Region office in Oklahoma City.

Herwig could not say when the FAA granted the APIS approval, touted by Sino Swearingen executives in a Dec. 20 press release posted on the company's Web site.

"We have been working towards APIS approval since receiving our type certificate with both of our plants in Martinsburg, WV (manufacturing) and San Antonio, TX (assembly/final completion)" Bob Homan, vice president of quality assurance, said in the release.

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"I am very proud of the work that everyone at SSAC has performed to develop the processes and procedures for APIS approval. With their efforts, we are well on our way toward obtaining a production certificate (PC) in the near future," Homan said in the release.

The Berkeley County plant near the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport manufactures the fuselage, wings and tail for the SJ30-2.

Ching-Chiang Kuo, Sino Swearingen board chairman and chief executive officer, said being allowed to inspect its own products under an FAA-approved system will enhance the Taiwanese government-funded company's ability to mass produce the aircraft, reduce a backlog of more than 300 orders and "put SJ30s into the hands of a very excited group of customers."

The company promotes the SJ30-2 business jet as a high-performance twin-jet aircraft with a range of more than 2,500 nautical miles, with the highest cruising speed in the light jet industry, traveling Mach .83, or 560 mph.

The aircraft carries a price tag of more than $6 million.

In July, the company announced plans to build a $20 million facility at the San Antonio International Airport and create 850 new jobs in that area. Earlier this year, the company said it employed 220 people at its West Virginia operation, and previously projected employment would grow to 300.

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