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Sierra Nevada Corp. plans to open a hangar in September at Colorado Springs Airport that will employ 40-60 people to complete maintenance and alterations on military and civilian aircraft, airport officials said Friday.

The 60,000-square-foot, $11 million hangar will be leased from Phoenix-based Cutter Aviation on the site of the airport's former passenger terminal and will be able to accommodate up to three Lockheed C-130 aircraft or two Boeing business jets simultaneously. Cutter is building a $2 million executive terminal on an adjacent site to be used by non-commercial aircraft owners and their passengers. Sierra Nevada said Friday in a statement that the hangar will be used by its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) unit, which the company describes as "a leading prime manned and unmanned aircraft systems integrator for innovative, high-performance ISR systems." The project, submitted last month for approval by city planners, also includes extension of a taxi lane and construction of a 250,000-gallon water tank and pump house for a regional fire suppression system that will be needed for a four-hangar complex planned on a nearby site by Sierra Completions, a Sierra Nevada subsidiary. Sierra Completions turns widebody passenger aircraft into flying offices for senior corporate executives and heads of state.

Troy Stover, the airport interim director, said Friday that Sierra Nevada first approached the airport last summer about building the hangar on the former passenger terminal site, which had already been leased to Cutter. Cutter agreed to build the hangar and lease it to Sierra Nevada.

The project is the latest spurred by a commercial aeronautical zone created in 2015 to offer tax breaks to aviation-related businesses operating on or near the airport. The tax breaks include exemptions or credits for city and county sales and use tax on equipment, supplies and parts used in maintaining, retrofitting and upgrading aircraft.

"This wouldn't be possible without the commercial aeronautical zone," Stover said. "This is another example of positive economic development and job creation in our community, made possible through the efforts of the (Colorado Springs) City Council, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners and Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority."
The maintenance hangar will be used to repair, refurbish and overhaul engines, avionics and air frames for aircraft owned by the privately held Sparks, Nev.-based aerospace contractor and other companies as well as make modifications to those planes.

Sierra built a 30,000-square-foot hangar in 2015 and leases an adjacent former air freight terminal on a nearby airport site used by Sierra Completions until construction, slated to begin later this year, is completed on its $100 million Colorado Aerospace Park, according to a 2015 company news release.

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