West Star Aviation Expands Operation in Chattanooga

Company’s $17 million investment will bring 100 jobs to growing city.

West Star’s expansion will include a new 40,000-square-foot-hangar and will create 100 jobs. Screengrab from West Star Aviation YouTube video

West Star Aviation, a full-service maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility announced Monday that it will expand its business at the Chattanooga airport through a $17 million investment. 

The project includes construction of a new 40,000-square-foot hangar and will create 100 jobs. It is expected to be completed in 2023.

The announcement was made at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (KCHA) by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner Bob Rolfe, and West Star Aviation officials.

“West Star's expansion and investment in Tennessee strengthens our state's position in the aerospace industry," Lee said in a statement.

Headquartered in Chicago, West Star employs more than 250 people in Chattanooga who perform a wide variety of maintenance services for all major manufacturers of business jets and medium and light piston-powered airplanes.

Jim Rankin, West Star Aviation's chief executive, said his company was looking forward to growing the facility and creating jobs.

“The local community and development programs have been a key part to aiding in the growth of West Star in the Chattanooga area,” Rankin said.

New Facility the Former Home of an Air National Guard Unit

West Star officials told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the new hangar will occupy a space that was formerly held by the Tennessee Air National Guard for many years before it transferred to a new facility in 2010. In preparation for West Star’s expansion, the airport had begun to invest in spaces around it for use by potential aeronautical clients.

West Star previously set up shop on the west side of the main runway when it first came to Lovell Field in 2015, and then later built a new space on the east side where it's now located.

Chattanooga’s Fast Growth

Officials are enthusiastic that this move will attract more professionals to Chattanooga, which has experienced a 7.3 percent population growth during the past decade.

"The Chattanooga Airport is an economic driver, and this expansion will bring in even more companies and added jobs, leading to additional spending in our region," said Terry Hart, president and CEO of Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.

Hart called West Star a “great partner” and said their expansion was a “significant investment” in the community.

Michael Wildes holds a master’s degree in Logistics & Supply Chain Management, and a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science, both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Previously, he worked at the university’s flight department as a Flight Check Airman, Assistant Training Manager, and Quality Assurance Mentor. He holds MEI, CFI & CFII ratings. Follow Michael on Twitter @Captainwildes.

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