Fly Home For Maintenance?

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Kansas, and specifically Wichita, are well-known for manufacturing a huge number of general and business aviation aircraft over the years. Once they've flown the coop, so to speak, they don't often come back for routine maintenance or modifications, however, unless there's no other facility that can do the work. That might change in the near future, however, thanks to legislation enacted earlier this month that gives sales-tax exemptions for aircraft maintenance and modification. According to the published reports, the new legislation was pushed by the Salina (Kan.) Airport Authority, Bombardier, Cessna and Raytheon. Other states have such an exemption in place; Kansas is just trying to level the playing field. Or is it? Signs are that -- at least Cessna -- is expecting some substantial growth in the near term. For example, The Wichita Eagle reports that Cessna plans to hire 400 workers, by calling back laid-off employees and by advertising open positions. Most of the available jobs are for sheet-metal workers, but there are positions available in engineering and aircraft completion, also. Cessna say its need for more employees results from its planned delivery schedule, according to the Eagle. Meanwhile, Cessna has under construction a major service center. Planned for opening in January 2005, the Citation jet service center will be the largest business-jet service center in the world, company officials told the Eagle. Cessna's new center will be able to handle as many as 120 airplanes a day. That will be good news for the local economy and, possibly, give Cessna a huge advantage over other companies when it comes to where they get their bizjets serviced. Now that there is no sales-tax hit, look for the skies over Wichita to get even more crowded.