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Originally published February 9, 2012 at 5:40 PM | Page modified February 9, 2012 at 9:31 PM

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ATS opens aerospace-repair plant near Paine Field, looks to hire

Aviation Technical Services opened a new parts-repair facility just south of Boeing's Everett plant, securing 100 skilled mechanics' jobs and making plans to hire another 100 within two years.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

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Outstanding. Glad to hear this news. More jobs for the community. Another good locat... MORE
I think this is better news than the scope of 100 new hires suggests. After ATS leased... MORE

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Airplane maintenance and repair company Aviation Technical Services (ATS) on Thursday opened a new parts-repair facility just south of Boeing's Everett plant, securing 100 skilled mechanics' jobs and making plans to hire another 100 within two years.

Boeing last year took over one of ATS' large buildings at the other end of Paine Field to do rework on 787 Dreamliners.

That meant the Everett-based business needed a new facility for its parts work. Chief Executive Matt Yerbic said ATS looked nationally for the best location, but the depth of the aerospace industry in Snohomish County persuaded him to keep the work at Paine Field.

With 300 aerospace companies within 50 miles, Yerbic said, if he needs something done in a hurry — whether that's a composite part hardened in an autoclave or a piece of machined metal that's too complex for his three-axis milling machines — he can send it out and get it done in a day.

"That proximity, you can't beat it," he said.

The other major factor was the skill level of the labor force.

"There are cheaper places to operate, with lower-cost facilities and lower-cost labor," said Yerbic. "But what we found was, for the complexity and technical requirements we have, we have a group of employees here who are highly dedicated and skilled in doing this work."

ATS also has two hangars at Paine Field where it does maintenance work mainly on Southwest and Alaska jets.

In the new 70,000-square-foot facility ATS has leased and equipped, Kelly Brooks, 48, was repairing the leading edge of a 737 wing. Carefully, he cut and worked a delicate piece of aluminum with a honeycomb structure.

On a stand beside him, the long wing part had already been stripped of paint, and Brooks had cut away a damaged piece. He was making a replacement for what he'd cut out.

Later, he'll slot it in place, put a composite patch over the top, then enclose it in a bag and apply pressure and heat to set the composite material.

In another section of the facility, Robert Sala, 37, tensed his biceps hard against a screw gun, teasing out a recalcitrant screw from an aft cargo door fresh off a Southwest 737. With one more heave, it came cleanly out, and he flashed a smile.

Upon dismantling the door, he'll inspect the inside for damage and replace any parts that need it.

The components facility also will work on hydraulic components and airplane electronics.

ATS has a total of about 1,000 employees. Yerbic said he's seeking 20 new hires at the parts facility right away.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

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