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Aircraft repair company to operate in Dothan

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) -- A Miami-based aircraft repair and maintenance company will open a new plant at the Dothan Regional Airport that will employ hundreds of people in southeast Alabama, officials said Friday.

Commercial Jet Inc. will invest $12 million to open a new, 400,000-square foot facility at the airport, where a similar company, Pemco, operated before shutting down in 2012.

Officials including Gov. Robert Bentley announced the project after the city's airport authority approved a lease and incentives for Commercial Jet, which maintains and modifies several models of commercial and military aircraft.

The complex will include multiple hangars, shops, stores and offices. Construction has already started, and the final building should be finished in October.

Commercial Jet plans to hire several hundred experienced aircraft technicians in the area within a few years, said John Schildroth, vice president and general manager for the Dothan facility.

"We are already getting a flow of new orders for our new facility, which will be open for business as soon as May of this year," Schildroth said in a statement.

The Dothan Eagle (http://bit.ly/10zOX0a ) reported that the airport authority approved a construction contract for more than $13 million on the property. The authority will receive a $7.6 million industrial development grant and sell about $6 million in tax-exempt bonds to pay for the remainder.

The new plant will more than triple Commercial Jet's capacity to work on airplanes. The company currently has a 100,000-square foot hangar at Miami International Airport.

The announcement was a boost to the state's aircraft industry, which includes a new Airbus plant in Mobile.

Bentley this week signed a new law that makes it more difficult to sue aircraft companies in Alabama by setting a time limit for lawsuits against airplane manufacturers and suppliers. The governor's office said the law would not apply to Commercial Jet since it isn't a manufacturer.