Ascent Aviation Services Expands Regional Footprint

Gaining Altitude

By Ken Cook

Ascent Aviation Services broke ground on two new wide-body aircraft hangers this spring at Pinal Air Park in Marana, offering the region an expanded presence from a kingpin aircraft company in the U.S. 

With the expansion, Ascent triples its Marana facilities, growing from 100,000 square feet to almost 300,000 square feet of maintenance and conversion space. There is an additional 60,000 square feet of storage and shop space.

“The construction of these two hangers reflects our long-standing commitment to grow our footprint in Southern Arizona and to provide long-standing stability to all of our team members,” said Dave Querio, Ascent president and CEO. 

Ascent Aviation Services is one of the largest independent aircraft aftermarket services providers in the world, offering heavy maintenance, component MRO, flight line, storage and reclamation services for wide-body, narrow-body, and regional aircraft. Ascent is a Class IV FAA 14 CFR Part 145 certified repair station and has maintained a robust workforce in Arizona for over 40 years.

“This investment not only enhances our aerospace capabilities, but also underscores the collaborative and regional spirit of our community,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., the region’s economic development arm. “Together, we continue to position Southern Arizona as a leader in aviation innovation, driving economic growth and prosperity for generations to come.”

Other impacts from this expansion include:

  • Adding 300 new jobs to an existing workforce of 600, with 130 already hired, bringing the total to 900 employees in Marana.
  • Increasing revenue and man-hours by 50%. 
  • A $55 million capital investment for the new hangers, and an additional $10 million capital investment for the storage and shop space.

Querio added, “With our long-term partnership with the world’s leader in passenger-to-freighter modifications, Israel Aerospace Industries, Ascent continues to execute on our aggressive and methodical expansion of capabilities for our global network of customers.”

A 15-year contract with IAI involves engine overhaul, component overhaul, and composite overhaul services. IAI is Israel’s major aerospace and aviation manufacturer, producing aerial and astronautic systems for both military and civilian usage. Upon completion of the hanger development, the Marana operation will convert two lines of Boeing B777-300ER aircraft.  

In a global company, Ascent could have chosen anywhere to locate its new facility. Querio indicated that several locations were under consideration, including Roswell, N.M.  

In the end though, Querio indicated that Ascent wanted to keep the focus in Southern Arizona. Project partners, including the State of Arizona, Town of Marana, Sun Corridor Inc., Pinal County and Pima County, influenced Ascent’s leaders and its ownership group Monroe Capital to choose the Pinal Air Park in Marana.  

“For more than 40 years, Ascent has maintained a strong and continuous presence in our state − bolstering our robust aviation industry and bringing hundreds of jobs to the region,” said Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, who attended the Mar. 29 groundbreaking. “Today’s announcement is the beginning of what is sure to be another 40 years of partnership, collaboration and innovation that will move our state and country forward.  Not only will this expansion grow Ascent’s existing Arizona footprint, it represents a $55 million-dollar capital investment in this community and will create more than 300 new, good-paying jobs.”

Ascent’s expansion also continues to bolster the region as a thriving aerospace & defense megaregion that includes 200+ companies, 25,000+ employees, and 4,000+ aerospace technology graduates.  Anchored by Raytheon, University of Arizona, Pima Community College and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Southern Arizona offers the industries a deep supply chain presence here.

PCC’s Aviation Technology Center, an 87,000 square-foot, hands-on learning center adjacent to Tucson International Airport, is training a workforce to meet the region’s aeronautical needs. UArizona also powers this area as a Space City of the Southwest with its Space Institute, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, engineering and optical science departments.

In addition to Raytheon and Ascent, Tucson is also home to other aerospace companies such as Bombardier, Sargent Aerospace & Defense, Universal Avionics, Parker Meggitt, and FreeFall Aerospace.  

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