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Orlando International Lures Avocet

Avocet Maintenance & Engineering and its sister firm, Aircraft Parts Sales Inc. are relocating from Opa-Locka Airport in Miami-Dade County to the Orlando Sanford International Airport (OSIA) in Seminole County. OSIA’s airline traffic and a new hangar for expansion possibilities were the driving factors.

Avocet, which has been in business for more than 20 years, provides repair, maintenance, and aircraft teardown services for cargo planes, specializing in Boeing 737 maintenance. Maria Arellano, Avocet’s General Manager, says they hope to get a Federal Aviation Administration license to work on passenger airliners as well.

The Sanford Airport Authority is set to build a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art hangar for Avocet at the OSIA, enabling the company to offer a full range of services to commercial customers. Estimated to cost between $4 and $5 million and using a 50 percent matching state grant, the hangar is expected to be ready by the first quarter of 2010. A 20-year or longer lease agreement is being negotiated and in the interim, while the new one is being built, Avocet is occupying a smaller facility for about $165,000 a year.

“We’re excited about our partnership with Orlando Sanford International Airport and the many opportunities that will arise for our company and for our valued clients,” says Arellano. “Sanford is one of the fasted growing airports in the United States, and is strategically located in Central Florida. This move will provide us with the opportunity to expand our capabilities…”

Avocet presently has 20 employees but anticipates an additional 180 jobs over the next two years. The Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and Seminole Community College will help arrange employee-training programs for up to 150 aviation mechanics, positions that are estimated to earn more than $45,000 a year.

The move is mutually beneficial as Avocet would be the airport’s first full-service aircraft maintenance operation. Orlando Sanford Vice President Diane Crews says, “The more service we can offer to the air carriers then, obviously, the greater our attraction as an aviation facility for commercial aircraft.”

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