$50m jet facility takes flight
AIRCRAFT maintenance giant TAE Aerospace has taken the first step towards transforming the former Masters hardware building at Bundamba.
Work is under way to turn the abandoned warehouse - which TAE bought for $12.5 million as part of a two-year, $50 million investment - into a dedicated repair and maintenance facility for the engines powering the Classic Hornet, Super Hornet, Joint Strike Fighter and the Abrams Tank.
Members of the 150-strong existing TAE workforce currently working out of Amberley RAAF Base met Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo at the site yesterday, to make the start of construction.
TAE Aerospace CEO Andrew Sanderson said stage 1 of construction was scheduled for completion by April 19 next year.
"At that point we will be ready to invite (aircraft manufacturer) Pratt and Whitney out to begin the fitting out for the F-35," Mr Sanderson said.
"The construction will be done in phases, and we will have the offices, administration and technical centre relocated to this site by January 2020."
All staff and operations currently conducted in various hangars at RAAF Base Amberley will be moved to the new Bundamba site, apart from the aircraft test cell, which will be refurbished and remain at Amberley.
Jet engines will be loaded onto trucks and transported 22km between and Amberley and Bundamba as required.
Mr Sanderson said the move made sense because it would allow almost all of TAE's operations to be conducted under one roof.
"We will have 150 staff off Amberley relocate, and we anticipate growing that number by 80 people in the future.
"Expressions of interest went out today for the first 15 of those new jobs."
Mr Ciobo said the beginning of construction at Bundamba was a 'concrete practical example' of the Federal Government's commitment to increasing investment in defence industries.
"This site represents the growing potential of TAE Aerospace and the growth in terms of employment in this highly technical area," he said.
ICON is leading construction of the facility over the next 18 months.
The already cavernous warehouse building is set to expand by about 80 per cent in size, with the existing building footprint of 8000sq m increasing to 15,500sq m.