UPDATE: AAR Hangars pass final inspections

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Updated: July 15, 2016
ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- The two new, massive, and much anticipated AAR hangars at the Rockford Airport passed their final structural tests on Friday. In just a matter of 45-seconds, fire suppressant foam had workers shoulder-deep and AAR says it can fill the nearly ten story, $40 million facility in less than 12 minutes in the event of a fire. It all was happening across the street from Rock Valley College's new multi-million dollar Aviation Education Center, where AAR has guaranteed graduates an interview for their 500-1,000 new jobs that will soon be available.

"With that pipeline of talent, where they can see economic opportunity directly across the street, right here at the Chicago Rockford International Airport, that is the secret sauce," said Greg Dellinger, AAR's Director of Talent Aquisition. "It's a pipeline of talent directly into our business."

AAR hopes to have some workers in by Labor Day but says it still needs to close some deals with a few customers, and get the jet repair hub FAA Certified, first.

All the jobs require specialized training as well as experience in the mechanical/engineering field. Interested applicants should email gdellinger@aarcorp.com for more information.

UPDATED: May 25, 2016
ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- Four years in the making, construction on AAR's new massive facility at Chicago Rockford International Airport is almost finished. The project is on schedule and more than $1 million under budget according to Airport Executive Director Mike Dunn. The AAR dual-hangar facility was projected to cost more than $41 million but now is anticipated to finish under $40 million.

Construction could finish in a matter and AAR could start working on airplanes by the end of August if inspections go well - inspections take between 4-6 weeks on average. The airport says it will collect an annual $400,000 rent check from AAR.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Some construction workers at the Rockford Airport now have a roof over their heads. The new AAR project guaranteed to create at least 500 jobs is still on track and on budget.

More impressive than ever, the two hangars, made up of 52,000 bolts, 1,000 tons of steel, and 200,000 square feet covered by 120 rolls of PVC cover, are the largest pre-engineered structures of their kind. The $40 million project is still on track to finish in June, according to Rockford Airport Executive Director, Mike Dunn. The South hangar is already fully covered and crews have also poured the flooring where the offices and owner suites will be.

“It’s mammoth. People can’t understand until they actually get out here, this thing is mammoth,” says Dunn.

"It's always strange when you put it on paper and then you go out to the job site and it looks so big," said architect Dan Roszkowski, President of Larson & Darby Group. "Then they start putting the walls up and it starts to get closed in again. It's a unique thing to be a part of."

According to Scandroli Construction, the wind has been the most challenging thing to deal with so far on the project, however, despite those difficult conditions, construction has been able to continue without any problems, "The biggest challenge out here is the wind, it's extremely windy on calm days," said Joe Scandroli, company president. "There are just some days it's so windy the crane can't go up, so obviously when they're up 100 feet in the air trying to roll a tarp it's challenging."

Dunn says the two hangars are capable of housing an Airbus plane, nearly 100 feet tall. Dunn says typical mechanical inspections and repairs on planes that size can last 45 days, "The AAR opportunity is going to bring us opportunity for cargo more than anything and that's wonderful, that's something we hope happens," Dunn said.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Construction on the AAR hanger will continue as planned thanks to some help from our local banks and one local contractor says keeping it local is good for Rockford.

"Hopefully that will cause everything to grow and it only helps everybody,” Larson & Darby’s CEO of Engineering, Bill Waldorf said. “It helps the architects, it helps the construction, it helps the businesses and it's just exciting to see Rockford on the rebound and really starting to make an impact."

Larson & Darby Group is designing the new AAR hangar that promises to provide one thousand stateline jobs in its early years. Dan Roszkowski, the firm’s president, says the project will not only support the 45 employees in his company but hundreds more during its construction phase.

"I can't walk away from a project and just say, 'well that one didn't go so good so I'm just not going to put it in my portfolio and not going to tell anybody else about it,' because I have to live with it here,” Roszkowski said. “It's my reputation; it's our firm's reputation."

Waldorf says AAR is one of the largest designs Larson & Darby has taken on in terms of square-footage. He also says it is one of the most unique projects because it has to be a fabric structure since metal would interfere with radar at the airport.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Five local banks are working together to make sure the AAR maintenance repair facility at Rockford's airport is completed on time.

Today the CEO's of Alpine Bank, Rockford Bank & Trust, Blackhawk Bank, Northwest Bank, and Byron Bank came together to extend a $17 million line of credit to allow construction of the $41 million AAR project.

The airport maintenance hangar is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the region making it one of the area's largest employers. RFD Executive Director Mike Dunn says not only was the move by the banks unprecedented, but also very necessary.

"Oh no, the entire project was in jeopardy and would have been stopped until the state funding was available to us. So this is a great gap measurement for us and without these five banks doing what they've done today we would be dead in the water," said Dunn.

Initial estimates is for 500 jobs to be added to the workforce following completion of the airplane maintenance facility, but AAR CEO David Storch says he would be disappointed if there weren't at least 1,000 employees by the end of the first year.

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