Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Avacelle Could Reach Full Production in 2 Years

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Avacelle Could Reach Full Production in 2 Years

Article excerpt

If all goes as planned, jet engine mufflers made in Oklahoma City will be used on airplanes flying throughout the world in less than two years.

That's about how long it will take for start-up Avacelle Inc. to reach full production and equip older airplanes with its noise reduction nacelles.

The company, which received a $3 million state-backed Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund loan May 31, plans to move as soon as possible from a temporary office and engineering facility in Edmond to 6912 S. Bryant Ave. in south Oklahoma City. That building is now occupied and Avacelle will move in when it becomes available, said President and Chief Operating Officer A.B. Stewart. No date for the move was given.

First meeting of the company's board of directors is scheduled for Friday morning at the Waterford Hotel. A reception for directors to meet the Oklahoma City press corps and the business community is scheduled for tonight, also in the Waterford.

When the company moves from its Edmond location, the existing work force of about 20 employees will grow to between 35 and 60. At full production, the company anticipates between 250 and 400 employees, including a crew at the former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base near Burns Flat, Okla.

Production of about "three or four sets" of quiet engine nacelles per month is expected in about 17 months, or November 1991, Stewart said.

Nacelles are the devices which envelop an aircraft engine to dampen the noise and also attach it to the plane. Noise reduction nacelles are different from so-called hush kits which do no more than provide an extra covering for the nacelle.

"What we do is remove the old nacelle and discard it," Stewart said. "We then replace it with one of our nacelles, which has been engineered using laws of physics to reduce noise levels. It will work much like an automobile muffler."

Potential market for the quiet engine nacelles is "realistically" 120 airplanes, although there are about 600 airplanes which could use the product to meet anti-noise regulations at many airports, Stewart said.

"We based all our projections and business plan on achieving a 10 percent penetration, or about 60 sets of nacelles," Stewart said. "But realistically, I feel that 120 is a better target and we could even do better than that.

"I don't think we could achieve anywhere near 50 percent (market penetration), however."

The nacelles, which can be retrofitted on all series of Boeing 707s using the Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B engines, will cost an estimated $6 million per set, he said.

However, refitting older 707s with the nacelles to meet stringent anti-noise regulations, which are becoming more prevalent worldwide, is cheaper than buying a new airplane, said Jay T. Edwards, chairman of the board.

"If you ordered a new airplane from Boeing right now, you'd have to get in line and wait for at least two years," Edwards said. "And, the new airplane would cost about $65 milion.

"Buying an older 707, refurbishing it and adding the quiet nacelles would cost about $15 million and take a matter of months, not years. So, the economic benefit is to use the older aircraft."

Biggest market for the nacelles, which use new technology to dampen the sound of a jet engine to meet Stage III of current U.S. noise regulations, would be for air freight lines flying to the Pacific Rim, Edwards said.

"The 707 is a great airplane," he said. "Most people think of it as an older airplane, but in fact the ones flying now are new airplanes, with just the appearance of the original. Boeing has certified the airframe for an indefinite time, so there's no life limit on that airplane.

"Not many people will buy the airplane and refurbish it to fly passengers across the Pacific (Ocean) but it will be great for freight. …

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