The San Luis Obispo-based aviation services company, ACI Jet, is in the midst of a significant expansion, with a new maintenance authorization and facility construction at the County Regional Airport.
ACI received authorization to provide maintenance services for the Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier — helping to grow ACI’s labor force by 30 percent in each of the next two years.
The company is also building a new 25,000-square-foot hangar and constructing a new corporate headquarters.
Headquartered at 945 Airport Dr. at the SLO County Regional Airport, ACI plans to hire 15 immediate, full-time workers to help support the work associated with Bombardier, based in Montreal.
Those include head-of-household jobs for technicians, management positions, inspectors and a project manager.
ACI has been named an Authorized Service Facility for Bombardier’s large-cabin Challenger and Global business jets, often used to charter executives of companies conducting cross-country or international business.
The authorization makes ACI the only company to service Bombardier planes west of Tuscon, Arizona. ACI expects to maintain planes coming from Asia, as well as throughout the western United States.
“It’s a very big deal to get an authorization like this,” said Dave Jensen, ACI Jet’s senior vice president of maintenance. “And along with the new jobs, this will bring a significant economic impact to the local community.”
The benefit includes a new base of visitors who will rent cars, stay at local hotels, shop and wine taste during layovers while their planes are being worked on, Jensen said.
ACI expanding its operations
The new hangar space and ground support services will bring ACI Jet’s footprint at the county airport to about 18 acres, with more than 80,000 square feet of dedicated maintenance, storage and tenant hangar space.
Bombardier has nearly 70,000 employees. Its operations include manufacturing of regional airliners, business jets and railways.
More than 2,900 Bombardier planes operate from North American bases.
ACI Jet’s work on Bombardier aircraft, which officially began Monday, includes line and maintenance services, warranty work and inspections.
Work will include fixes to air frame, engine, landing gear, avionics, wi-fi installation, cabin entertainment and wheel overhauls.
Possibilities for new jobs, training
While planes are grounded, passengers and pilots will have the opportunity to use nearby businesses or space to conduct work or stay at local hotels through ACI partnerships. The company also has a specific relationship with Tolosa Winery to allows its clients use of space there.
ACI, founded in 1998 by William Borgsmiller, the company’s CEO, is the only business of its kind in the SLO County area. It currently has 260 employees, including an Orange County branch.
Company services include aircraft ground support services and fuel, maintenance and inspections, full-service aircraft management, and private jet charter services on the West Coast.
Jensen said the company is coordinating with local community colleges and the county’s Economic Vitality Corporation about possibly establishing an Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School in SLO County, where none currently exists.
Technicians with a degree from FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School generally can make between $25 and $60 per hour, Jensen said.
“We tend to have to recruit people from the Bay Area and Los Angeles in particular,” Jensen said. “We’d like people to be able to get their degree here and work where they already live.”
ACI also recently began leasing an existing hangar to SkyWest Airlines, which could bring additional new jobs through the work generated by SkyWest, according to Jensen.