Plane and simple:
Quartz Mountain Aerospace introduces new aircraft and
plan for hundreds of new jobs in Altus
Journal Record, March 28, 2006
BETHANY - An Oklahoma-based aircraft manufacturer unveiled its newest aircraft
Monday during a media conference at Wiley Post Airport in Bethany .
Quartz Mountain Aerospace, formerly known as Luscombe Aircraft Corp., unveiled
the Model 11E - a new four-seat, high-winged airplane designed for trainers and
John S. Daniel, president and chief operating officer of Quartz Mountain
Aerospace, said the company's manufacturing facility in Altus will eventually
be supported by 300 employees after the single-engine Model 11E begins its
first production cycle on 68 airplanes in September.
"We decided it was time for a new airplane, a new look and a new
name," Daniel said. "We're just now getting into production, and
we wanted the name of our company to be much more Oklahoma-ish. We are
scheduled to have 100 employees by the end of 2006, and we should have
300 by the end of 2007, plus we will have another 100 people around the s
tate working to support our production."
The plant currently employs 35 people but will ramp up its work force as
orders for the airplane increase. The average starting salary at Quartz
Mountain Aerospace is $32,000 annually.
Priced between $189,000 for a basic model and $200,000 for a more powerful
aircraft with an upscale interior, the Model 11E is a Federal Aviation
Administration-certified, modern-day modification of the Luscombe Model 11A.
Certified in 1946, the Model 11A was designed as a combined family-business
aircraft and was produced by the Luscombe Aircraft Co., which closed its doors
Daniel said Luscombe Aircraft Corp. moved to Altus in 1996, purchased the
11A-type certification style and incorporated it into the Model 11E.
"We retained the basic design of the airframe, but it's a very modern
airplane with classic design," Daniel said. "We still refer to the
Luscombe heritage because it's a good design and solid in flight. We renamed
it the Model 11E and put on tricycle-landing gear (replacing the tail wheel)
so it is easier to take off and land. It has a new fuel-injected engine,
navigation gear and radios."
The Model 11E is designed to be comparable to certain Cessna and Piper models.
Daniel said the all-metal aircraft has a spacious utility interior, its new nose
wheel steering aids the sturdiness of the craft and helps pilots establish a
superior level of ground directional control.
Designed primarily as a trainer or for people who wish to own their own private
aircraft, Quartz Mountain Aerospace already has 60 orders for 185-horsepower
Model 11Es, the plane specialized for flight training. Daniel said the company
anticipates 20-percent annual sales growth after its second year in production.
"By year four of production, beginning in September 2009, we would be
manufacturing up to 360 aircraft in a 12-month period, which translates into
about $72 million in sales," he said.
Daniel, who formerly worked for Cessna and has a 30-year history of work in
aviation manufacturing, credits the city of Altus, the Oklahoma Quality Jobs
Program, private investors, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology
Education's CareerTech system, especially the Southwest Technology Center in
Altus, the Oklahoma Industrial Finance Authority and rural small business
programs for providing support for Quartz Mountain Aerospace.
"The FAA-certification process started in 1996, but the company didn't
have a lot of success for various reasons," he said. "I came in
during 2001 with team members who had been through the certification process,
and we finished in December 2002. During the interim, we put together all our
production plans and got funding.
"That's one thing that is attractive about Oklahoma ," Daniel said.
"The state initially gives up some tax money, and we put that back through
the creation of jobs and by using as many Oklahoma-based suppliers that we
Quartz Mountain Aerospace received $2.5 million in startup money through the
city of Altus ' economic development fund and another $2 million from the
Oklahoma Industrial Finance Authority. Investors in the company have also
received state tax credits. Daniel said the company's first $10 million
came from private investors - some who are Oklahomans.
"As for jobs, Altus is the real reason we wanted the company here,"
he said. "We wanted to support economic development, get some industry
here in this corner of the state. We hope to create a sizable job pool in
this part of the country.
"The city of Altus built our facility for us in 1997, and we leased it
using Quality Jobs Program money," Daniel said. "We have a very
good relationship with the city of Altus . The Oklahoma Industrial Authority
loaned us money to buy equipment and tooling."
The company is paying off debt and interest and hopes the state of Oklahoma
will continue to support the manufacturing facility as Quartz Mountain
Aerospace gets up and running. Daniel said the city of Altus ' and the
state's tax incentives and other programs have made Oklahoma easy to work with.
"Usually it can cost $40 million to $100 million to get to a position
where you have profitability," he said. "All in all, it will be
relatively inexpensive to put Quartz Mountain Aerospace into business."