BROOKSVILLE — If you have a private plane, you'll soon have a new place in Hernando County to park, repair and gas up your aircraft.
Brooksville Air Center will be the county's second fixed-based operator, joining American Aviation, which has been in operation at the Hernando County Airport since the 1970s.
"The new operator will help provide competition on the field and give tenants a choice," said Don Silvernell, director of the Hernando County Airport.
Brooksville Air Center, which has been operating in a limited capacity under the name Flite Service Inc., recently leased 11 acres and is in the process of clearing land and constructing an office building and hangar.
"We're going to cater to corporate jets and anyone desiring to lower their costs of operation," said Jim McManus, Brooksville Air Center general manager.
The company will provide full-service maintenance and hopes to cater small planes as well, he said. They will provide around-the-clock service and hope to be up and running in July.
Most importantly, they want to give everyone a break on the cost of fuel, said McManus. It takes between 400 to 1000 gallons to fill up a large plane or jet, and even a small jet can cost $1,500 to fill up.
For operators and owners of small aircraft, Brooksville Air will have self-service fuel and won't charge ramp fees.
The company believes it has the potential to be what Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport was 30 years ago, said McManus.
The company's decision to expand was based in part on the region's need for around-the-clock service.
"We find that we need fuel after hours and there's a lot of weekend stuff," said McManus. "Everybody's not always available for us. We think we have a better mousetrap."
The company's expansion is good news for the county, said Mike McHugh, the county's business development director.
"It's a sector we really want to see more growth in," he said. "They're putting in road, water, and sewer. This will create more available land that's got some infrastructure. And that's a good thing."
The expanded company also means jobs. McManus hopes to hire people who have lost their jobs during the economic downturn. The company will train its own hires, he said.
While they will initially hire about 15 employees, they anticipate needing as many as 30 in 2010. And they are trying to secure more maintenance contracts, which could mean additional jobs later. The goal is to have between 100 and 150 mechanics, said McManus.