A new hanger at the Meridian Regional Airport will house Dean's Aircraft Service, a new division under the Meridian Airport Authority announced Thursday.

    The Meridian Airport Authority, which owns and maintains the Meridian Regional Airport and its associated facilities, is expanding its services to include aircraft maintenance.

    Judging by the excitement in the voice of Tom Williams, the president and CEO of the authority, this venture looks to be a lucrative endeavor that will only enhance the versatility of the airport.

    "I know we are excited by this deal," said Williams. "This new addition to the airport will only improve our service capabilities."

    The hangar is being built by the Meridian Regional Airport to replace Dean Aircraft’s present hangar, which was too small for the growing business. Dean's Aircraft Service, owned by Leonard Dean, has for 26 years built up a remarkable reputation for aircraft repair and maintenance and services jets and airplanes from clients all across the Southeast.

    "He just flat outgrew his current hanger and we entered into a deal with him for this new hanger," said Williams. "This type of business venture is not something we would ordinarily pursue but this was a unique situation with a great deal of potential."

    Williams said Dean's currently has about 60 clients.

    The 33,000 square-foot facility includes 17,000 square feet of hangar space, enough to house six Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft at a time, said Williams. The shop space, including a paint booth, covers 5,500 square feet. Williams said the administration personnel will be housed in 4,500 square feet of office space that also includes a pilot’s lounge for crews waiting for short-term maintenance or repair. The building also contains more than 5,500 square feet of storage space on the mezzanine.

    Williams said the deal with Dean's Aircraft Service makes the service company a division of the Meridian Airport Authority.

    The $3 million project was started in September of 2009 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2010, Williams said. The contractor is Larry J. Sumrall of Laurel.

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