TAKING FLIGHT: Bay lands high-tech plane factory deal
AN AIRCRAFT factory, which will produce up to 25 planes a year, is set to bring hundreds of jobs to the Fraser Coast.
Astro Aero will build a high-tech aircraft manufacturing centre on a greenfield site at the Hervey Bay Airport.
The $12 million project will create up to 200 long-term, high-skill jobs for the region, with the factory generating more than $16 million in annual wages and salaries once operational.
The major announcement was confirmed at yesterday's council meeting where mayor George Seymour flagged strong council support for both the aero factory and the $60 million Rheinmetall/NIOA munitions factory set to be built in Maryborough.
He said the council had been working with the companies behind the two projects to develop an incentive package, which included the waiving of infrastructure fees, to attract them to the region.
"These projects will help transform the region by creating long-term jobs directly and indirectly, boost the region's economic and manufacturing base and provide a solid economic foundation for growth in education and skills leading to a diversified workforce," Cr Seymour said.
"The establishment of aeronautical manufacturing will also act as a catalyst to attract other high-tech and innovative industries to the region... and would stimulate interest in courses such as aircraft design and a wide range of engineering fields as well as flight training."
Astro Aero program manager Francois van Teijlingen said construction of the new factory would start in mid-2019.
But he was tight-lipped about the type of planes that would be made at the new factory, telling the Chronicle "general utility aviation aircraft" would be built there.
"Two years ago we established Astro Aero in Hervey Bay, the design organisation where are developing and designing this aircraft," Mr van Teijlingen said.
"We have matured the design to the stage where we are going to manufacturing and seeking where to establish the manufacturing sector."
Mr van Teijlingen said Hervey Bay was the desired location due to its combination of lifestyle choices, lack of restricted airspace and an "excellent and under-utilised airport".
"The council offered the site to us, which a very lucrative and nice option," he said.
Cr Seymour also said the council would be providing financial support alongside all three levels of government to help build Maryborough's new munitions factory.
NIOA Corporate Development manager Jackson Nioa said the companies were finalising the business case for the proposed development and were in negotiations with the State Government for funding.
"The council have been very supportive of the proposed facility and have been fantastic to work with," Mr Nioa said.
"The long-term and highly skilled jobs at the Maryborough factory will be transformational for the region and the additional jobs will have a significant economic impact."