MORE JOBS COMING TO PALMDALE PLANT : AIRCRAFT CONTRACTOR EXPANDING.
With nearly $60 million in contracts already in hand, Tracor Flight Systems Inc. is looking to bring even more work to Palmdale.
The Texas-based company has opened a plant in Palmdale that will house subassembly work on the McDonnell Douglas MD-95 jetliner. Tracor has about 45 workers now but will grow to about 100 workers next year, said company Vice President Don Sullivan, who is in charge of the Palmdale plant.
``We started with a $30 million contract and doubled that in three months,'' Sullivan said. ``We think we can double that.''
Tracor won't disclose what work it is seeking until it ``has a bird in the hand,'' Sullivan said. However, Sullivan said he expects there will be more contract announcements coming in the next few months.
``We are talking about building additional buildings,'' Sullivan said. ``It's on an upbeat.''
Tracor is operating out of a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing plant on 8.8 acres at 30th Street East and Avenue P, just south of Air Force Plant 42. The site was originally used for fuselage work on the B-1B bomber but had been empty for five years until Tracor began using it in August.
In July, Tracor was awarded a $30 million contract to join wing halves of the MD-95, a new 100-passenger airliner.
Tracor's MD-95 work was extended with the awarding of a $27 million contract to build Y-barrel assemblies. The Y-barrel assembly is the lower part of the fuselage and houses the main landing gear, as well as fuel, hydraulic and electrical lines.
Tracor will send the joined wings and Y-barrel assemblies by truck to McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach. The contracts call for Tracor to make 402 sets for the MD-95, but Sullivan expects that the company will eventually make about 2,000.
Tracor's contracts will keep the Palmdale operation busy through the year 2007.
The MD-95 is described as a 21st-century version of the DC-9 and is intended to meet more stringent noise and emission requirements, and lower operating costs for the airlines.
Since the first contract in July, Tracor has been training employees and building the necessary tools for the project.
In addition to its Palmdale plant, Tracor has a plant at the Mojave Airport. That operation, which has 350 workers, involves converting Vietnam-era F-4 fighter jets into QF-4 remote-controlled drones for use as targets for the U.S. Air Force.