A Syberjet SJ30 light business jet sits outside the company's facility in Cedar City. Syberjet has already filled 36 jobs since receiving the go-ahead for its southern Utah plant last year.
By this time next year, MSC Aerospace could be delivering its first aircraft. But already the company has had an impact on Cedar City.
“I don’t know of anything else quite like it in southern Utah and it’s even probably unique in the state,” Whitney Clayton, chief executive officer, told the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) board at its February meeting.
“I just came back last night from Cedar City and they are all abuzz down there, the local population. Everybody knows what’s going on. Everybody wants to work there. We’re really excited about it.”
On the heels of receiving an incentive from the board last year, the company is in the midst of producing the SJ30 light business jet aircraft through its SyberJet Aircraft business, one of three subsidiaries adjacent to the Cedar City Municipal Airport.
Clayton said MSC has created 36 jobs since Cedar City was selected as a production site, with 15 positions still unfilled. Eighty more positions will be filled this year, part of a ramping up to 1,200 jobs over the next decade. Positions include aerospace engineers, assembly/structure mechanics, quality inspectors, fabricators and machinists.
MSC is the umbrella company for Syberjet Aircraft, parts manufacturer Metalcraft Technologies Inc. (MTI) and real estate company Cedar Building Associates. Metalcraft has been making aircraft parts for years, including supplying more than 2,000 pieces for the 747.
Clayton said the SJ30 will be “sort of a category buster” in private aviation, with a price tag of about $7.5 million, while competitor aircraft sell at about $14.5 million. “It’s really going to make an interesting entry into the market,” he said.
“It’s the fastest, longest range, most fuel-efficient, most technologically advanced private jet in its class. Everybody in the aerospace world knows that, but none of the previous owners have really been able to launch the program and get it into full mass production.”
Able to fly seven people, including two crew members, the SJ30 will be able to cruise at Mach 0.83, have a range of 2,500 nautical miles and typically fly at 41,000 to 43,000 feet, although it will be rated at a 49,000-foot ceiling. By comparison, commercial jets typically fly at about 37,000 feet at Mach 7.9, he said.
“We will beat the commercial aircraft,” Clayton said of the SJ30’s speed. “Where you really save time is not having to go through the airport line.”
Flight tests to re-certify the SJ30 will take place this summer, with two aircraft being produced for delivery next spring. At current tooling capacity, the company will be able to produce 24 aircraft annually. The company will start taking orders in the second quarter of this year.
“We don’t want to repeat some of the mistakes that a lot of the old competitors have made,” Clayton said. “We’re making sure [the] first flight is completely locked down. We have people knocking our doors down about it, but we’re sitting tight for just a second.”
The company announced its Cedar City headquarters and SJ30 assembly plant site last June after the GOED board approved incentives of $16.8 million for SyberJet and $15 million for MTI. MSC said the combined value of incentives from state and local governments totaled more than $43 million. At the time of the announcement, Metalcraft had 400 employees at a facility that housed corporate and staff offices, sheet metal fabrication, machining, heat treatment, inspection, and shipping and receiving operations.
Before acquiring SyberJet for $3.5 million in 2011, Metalcraft did wing and fuselage manufacturing for the SybertJet as well as component work for Boeing, Bombardier’s Learjet, General Electric, Gulfstream, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, SyberJet and Vought.
SyberJet became available to Metalcraft after one of its investors, Emivest Aerospace, went bankrupt following a dip in light aircraft demand. The SJ30 program once had the financial backing of several individuals and entities, including Gulfstream Aerospace, General Dynamics (now Lockheed-Martin), a collection of Taiwanese financial investors and Emirate Investment Development Corp. PDC (Emivest Aerospace).