BUILDING NEARLY COMPLETE FOR AIRPLANE PARTS PLANT

December 05, 2001 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Except for the inclement weather, things are going along fairly smoothly for the aerospace part-making company going up in the Elgin Industrial Park.

We have made pretty significant progress with the building, said owner Jeffery Smith of the Summerville area.

If we can get some good weather, Id say were within about two weeks of completing the building, he said.

We have constructed three sides, the office and the compressor room. Were working pretty steadily on the building.

Smith has three employees, not counting himself. When he hires other people will depend on the work load and when it occurs, he said.

The two huge machines that will do the bulk of the work in turning out airplane parts are in the building but not set up yet, Smith said.

We dont have power yet, but the electrician has started putting in the wiring and fuse boxes. Water and sewer is not hooked up, but that could happen quickly if the weather clears, Smith said.

Once the exterior of the building is completed, it should still take a while to get the machinery operational, Smith said.

Im not sure how long it will be before we are operational, but it probably will be about a month.

He said in calculating a likely timeline earlier, I didnt factor in the bad weather. Other than that, things have gone about as expected.

In March, he said he hoped to be operational by August, but there were delays in getting some financing, the land and in acquiring the machinery.

At that time, he called the company The Village Smithy, but that name was taken, so he is now calling it Omnicut.

Smith said he is going through a company in Southern California that is a certified contractor for Boeing.

I hope to get contracts with them and with another start-up aerospace company in that area.

Smith said he expected Boeing to get some of the sub-contract work recently awarded to Lockheed Martin for a defense contract that could keep manufacturers busy for the next 20 years.

On Oct. 26, Lockheed won the richest Pentagon contract ever to build a state-of-the-art military fighter for the 21st century, to be used by the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines, as well as the British Royal Navy and Air Force.

The initial development contract was for $19 billion, but spending is expected to total more than $200 billion over the next 20 years, producing at least 3,000 supersonic jets, all of them radar-evading and many capable not just of short takeoffs but of vertical landings as well, The Associated Press reported. The work involved should keep tens of thousands employed for decades.

Boeing, besides hoping to become a subcontractor for the joint strike fighter, is developing an unmanned combat aircraft that could lead to a huge order, and its commercial aircraft business is expected to bounce back from the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks within the next few years, analysts have said.

The two huge machines that will do the main part of the work for Omnicut are (1) a five-axis CNC gantry that is 50 feet long and 200 feet high and (2) a Coordinate Measuring Machine that checks the accuracy of the parts made by the other machine.

The company will be able to make parts for any size airplane, Smith said. The computer-driven machine will turn out such parts as fuselages, wings, landing gears, mostly of aluminum.