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Why Arkansas for Aerospace?

AADA WhyArkansas AerospaceAerospace consistently ranks as one of Arkansas’ top exports, accounting for more than $1.8 billion. Commercial airports generate about $2 billion to the state’s economy each year, and general aviation creates an economic impact on Arkansas of almost $500 million annually. There are currently about 180 aviation and aerospace-related companies in the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is the “jobs” Governor. He has promoted Aerospace and Defense throughout the country and around the globe. More and more industries, including aerospace and defense sectors are looking to Arkansas for supplier network growth and relocation. The governor has pursued a pro-business, pro-growth agenda through regulatory and tax reform. 

What makes Arkansas a good candidate for Aerospace? First, our location is ideal.  We are well positioned to supply aerospace and defense corridor stretching from Texas to Iowa. We also have a quality workforce and a governor committed to improving training and education opportunities for Arkansans.   

A very strong aerospace and defense base already exists in Arkansas, as well, and is positioned for growth.  Dassault Falcon Jet anchors a large business jet cluster in Central Arkansas, and projects are showing growth prospects for 2018. The Camden area is home to many defense contractors that are also well positioned to grow with the recent investment in our military infrastructure at the national level. 

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All the necessities, All in one place

AADA Article CFSClaud Holbert, a member of the Arkansas Air National Guard, founded Central Flying Service (CFS) in 1939 to bid on the Civilian Pilot Training program that former President Roosevelt implemented – in anticipation of WWII.  Working on the contract with Little Rock Junior College (now UALR), the CPT programs were converted to War Pilot Training programs once the war began, and trained hundreds of pilots for the services. Starting with just one Taylorcraft, Claud Holbert built a company that would go on to become one of the country's oldest and largest air charter and flying schools.

Following the war, CFS developed the entirety of their services including aircraft sales, charters, aircraft maintenance, hangar, and fueling. Unbeknownst at the time, this systemic business would soon become a vital aviation industry known as an FBO – Fixed Base Operation. In 1940, CFS introduced the first private, commercial multi-engine air service in the state with a Tri-Motor Ford. Other firsts include turbo-prop air charter, jet charter, and turbine helicopter charter in the state. More recently, Richard Holbert, current chairman and CEO of CFS, was present to accept the Milestone award. CFS was the recipient of the Milestone award this year, presented by the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), for having reached 470,000 flight training hours since 1939.

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Expanding Customer Expectations

AADA Article CACIn 1989, Custom Aircraft Cabinets (CAC) was founded in a single-car family garage. Partners Paul Reesnes and Mike Gueringer recognized a special niche market in an exceptionally demanding field of business: aircraft interiors. Since then, the once fledgling company has evolved through need-based growth remodels and has encountered many industry changes and challenges. But, the foundation of CAC remains the same…uncompromising quality and unmatched customer satisfaction.

Mike and Paul wanted to create a faith-based, family-oriented company culture, and have been very successful in that effort. Most of the leadership team has been with the company around 20 years. Co-owner Mike Gueringer said, “Our goal is to exceed customer expectations. We take special pride in meeting delivery schedules with the highest quality product...and under budget.  This keeps customers returning to CAC, even though the competition in our market is fierce.”

The core mission of CAC is simple: deliver the finest manufactured cabin interior components for the private, corporate and head-of-state aircraft interiors market. Driving the success of this mission is a CAC leadership team with more than 300 years of combined experience.  It is easy for employees as well as customers to embrace the CAC company philosophy:

  • Treat each customer and employee honestly and with integrity.
  • Deliver exceptional quality products priced fairly.
  • Exceed all expectations in customer service.

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What’s That Flying in the Sky? Probably Just a Drone.

AADA Article UAVUnmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, are an aircraft flown without a human pilot onboard. Instead, they are remotely controlled from the ground. There are two main types of UAV; autonomous and remotely piloted. Autonomous vehicles are much more accurate than remotely piloted operations; this autonomous technology is not yet perfected and requires some additional development in machine learning navigation.

While famously known for military-based applications (surveillance and recon, unmanned airstrikes) UAV is becoming more relevant because it provides an inexpensive, yet highly reliable method to complete complex or dangerous tasks. This includes, but is not limited to 3D mapping, thermal imaging, surveillance, and inspection jobs (such as bridges and towers). The ability to perform such complex tasks with a higher degree of accuracy than manned alternatives provides the driving force behind their continuing and growing necessity.

Nationally, the Trump administration is contemplating further relaxation of  commercial UAV/UAS regulations.  This change would permit broader testing usage by companies, as well as local governments. The announcement has been hailed as “a victory for tech companies that have bet that drone deliveries will be a part of retail in the future, as well as entertainment companies that want to use the machines for filming.”

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Air Travel Convenience Made “E-Z”

AADA Article EZMartJim Yates, natural entrepreneur and innovator of his time, is largely responsible for shaping the convenience store industry as it is today. Inspired by the national interstate signage of the time “E-Z On” & “E-Z Off”, Yates worked to deliver a business that would focus on exactly what convenience should be: easy. Through years of dedicated work, and careful leadership, Yates and his wife owned 34 stores by 1975. Following in 1979 to 65 stores, in 1980 80 stores, and by 1981 Yates had acquired over 100 stores to the E-Z Mart chain. To date E-Z Mart boasts over 300 stores in five southern states.

It’s “E-Z” to see how convenience plays such key roles in the aerospace industry, but what drew E-Z Mart to joining and supporting the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance (AADA)? Sonja Hubbard, Chief Executive Officer of E-Z Mart (and Yates’ daughter) discussed that her father “loved flying, and with our geographically spread operations we have relied on aviation to improve our efficiency.  I became involved with the AADA some years ago, inspired by not just the benefits to myself and company but the broad economic benefits to the state from having a strong aerospace industry.”

Job opportunities are abounding in Arkansas’ aerospace and aviation industries, and the potential for growth and expansion is certainly drawing the eyes of those who wish to invest in businesses and assets within the state. As Arkansas’ appeal grows, this attraction to even more industries allow for increased state productivity and financial stability. Hubbard remarked, “this is an area in which Arkansas already excels in, yet can do even more.”

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