Aircraft manufacturer to open Montrose facility

An international aircraft manufacturer expects to soon open a new facility in Montrose and employ more than 200 people within three to five years.

Extra Aircraft plans to open its U.S. headquarters and an aircraft production center at a proposed site in the Aerospace Research park adjacent to 21 Creative Place.

The German-based company manufacturers a line of high-performance aerobatic and business airplanes.

The company plans to construct a 50,000 square-foot facility in Montrose. The Montrose Regional Airport will provide temporary quarters until the new facility is completed.

Extra Aircraft reportedly will manufacture aircraft components at its factory in Germany and ship them to Montrose for assembly to customer specifications. The Montrose facility also will install engines and avionics into aircraft as well as include parts and maintenance facilities.

The Montrose Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced the news in separate press releases.

An official announcement followed in a presentation at the Montrose Regional Airport that featured Ken Keith, owner and chief executive officer of Extra Aircraft — as well as two of company airplanes, one dubbed the “Spirit of Montrose.”

The MEDC worked with the city and county of Montrose and Colorado Office of Economic Development to recruit the company. The state will support the project through its Colorado First and existing industry job training program as well as through other incentives.

“Even in these tough times,” Colorado continues to attract world-class companies and jobs thanks to our low-cost, high-quality and business-friendly strategies,” Ritter said. “Colorado’s spirit of innovation and strong manufacturing sector are helping to drive our economy forward and it’s my privilege to welcome Extra Aircraft to the Centennial State and the Western Slope. Congratulations to all of the partners who helped make this project a reality.”

Don Marostica, director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development, also praised the move. “Extra Aircraft’s arrival means 220 good-paying jobs for hard-working Coloradans,” Marostica said. “That is another reason why financial experts like CNBC and the American Legislative Exchange Council all agree Colorado is one of the best states in the country in which to do business and that we have one of the strongest economic outlooks for the future.”

Walter Extra, a competitive aerobatic pilot, launched Extra Aircraft in 1981 to design and build his own airplanes. What started out as a one-man operation since has grown into an international operation.

Extra Aircraft manufactures six models of aerobatic airplanes as well as the Extra 500 Spirit, a six-seat business airplane that features carbon fiber construction, a Rolls Royce turboprop engine and Avidyne Entegra avionics.