Spokane Journal of Business

Empire Aerospace lands approval to service jet

Aerospace company likely to expand its workforce

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Empire Aerospace, a subsidiary of Hayden-based Empire Airlines Inc., has secured approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to provide heavy maintenance service on Embraer S.A. ERJ 145 jets, says Reed Chase, Empire Airlines general manager.

The ERJ 145 is the first jet aircraft for which Empire Aerospace has gained approval—called operations specifications—to provide maintenance services.

The Embraer aircraft is a Brazilian-made, twin-engine, 50-passenger airliner.

“It’s used by several regional U.S. carriers,” Chase says, adding that St. Louis, Mo.-based Trans States Airlines’ entire fleet is ERJ 145s.

Empire Aerospace expects to service 20 to 30 such aircraft a year at its hangar at the Coeur d’Alene Airport, he says.

The company currently has 60 direct employees, and about 30 additional contract-labor employees help with fluctuations in maintenance schedules, Chase says.

Empire Aerospace has performed heavy maintenance on large turboprop aircraft for 10 years. 

“The market is so small in turboprops, we had to start looking at jets in our longtime goals for future expansion,” Chase says. “We decided to start with ERJ 145s after talking to customers. Eventually, we’ll probably be doing others.” 

Chase says Empire Aerospace also is negotiating with other regional airlines for jetliner-service contracts.

“If we get the contracts we’re looking at signing, we could grow to 90 to 120 employees potentially over a three- to four-year span,” he says.

The parent company, Empire Airlines, has more than 350 employees, including those at Empire Aerospace and at its other subsidiary, Empire Unmanned LLC, which provides unmanned aerial surveillance and analysis for agriculture and related industries.

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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