MAG receives FAA certification to do advance maintenance, customization on AW139 helicopters
From left, Darrell Condry, chief inspector at Mecaer Aviation Group Inc. (MAG, Inc.), Andrew Lewis, director of Maintenance and technician Donald Wright work on packing emergency floats for an Agusta Westland 139 helicopter at the Hagerstown facility Wednesday. (By Colleen McGrath / Staff Photographer / August 7, 2013)
The certification is MAG’s “ticket on the bus,” and “gets us legitimately moving forward,” said Ed Pears, president of MAG Inc.’s U.S. operations in Philadelphia and north of Hagerstown.
MAG is a subsidiary of Mecaer Aviation Group, which is based in Borgomanero in northern Italy.
“It’s certainly going to mean positive things for the county and hopefully for some of our citizens who will be able to obtain those jobs,” Washington County Board of County Commissioners President Terry Baker said.
MAG received FAA certification on Aug. 6 that permits the company to do advance maintenance and customization on AW139 helicopters, an AgustaWestland model that is used by emergency service officials and private customers, Pears said.
He said he expects the Hagerstown-area operation to have about 20 employees in a year.
The local MAG operation now has six full-time employees and one part-time worker, company officials said.
County officials announced in July 2012 that MAG would receive $100,000 in incentives to start its local operation.
The company will receive $20,000 a year for five years, and in exchange, MAG must have at least 18 full-time employees a year for five years with at least an annual average salary of $50,000.
Pears said the company received its first $20,000 incentive, for training costs, for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
County spokesman James Jenkins said that as part of the incentive agreement MAG must submit a certificate of job continuity form to the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission by Sept. 1 that outlines the positions the company has filled.
Since MAG just got its FAA certificate, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for the company to get an extension regarding the minimum 18 employees, Jenkins said.
In the long term, Pears said he sees MAG expanding its local operation beyond the approximately 16,000-square-foot hanger it has been leasing since June 2012 on Air Park Road in Hagerstown Regional Airport’s Aviation Technology Park.
The Philadelphia operation, which is slightly different, started about seven years ago and has grown from 13 to 45 workers in the past four years, Pears said.
That site started doing maintenance work within the last two years, he said.
The Hagerstown-area operation’s market has about a 300-mile radius and includes Baltimore and Washington, D.C., an area in which there are many helicopters in use, Pears said.
There is usually a consistent demand for helicopter maintenance, Pears said. Even during the recession, when helicopter use fell off, there was sufficient business for most companies to survive, he said.
Work at the Hagerstown-area operation began in December with workers inspecting pop-out emergency floats for helicopters for several companies and doing some general maintenance for a privately-owned, light utility helicopter, company officials said.
Now that MAG has the FAA certification for AW139s, it can pursue private and public jobs, such as maintenance for Maryland State Police’s new fleet of 10 AW139 medevac helicopters, Pears said.