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Aviation company Sierra Nevada buys Wichita firms

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, at 3:10 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, at 3:23 p.m.

Sierra Nevada Corp. has acquired Wichita-based 3S Certification and 3S Engineering, which will operate as a stand-alone business and subsidiary of the company.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The two Wichita companies were founded in 2006 by Bill Shields, a former Raytheon Aircraft designated engineering representative.

Shields will remain with the organization, which provides expertise for avionics and cabin equipment modifications and certification.

In the past two years, 3S Certification received an Organization Designation Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing it to give authority to approve Supplemental Type Certificates necessary for aircraft modifications.

The organizations work with third-party, independent and factory-owned modification centers.

The companies received approval to obtain avionics and wi-fi certification for numerous models of aircraft, including Bombardier, Gulfstream and Hawker Beechcraft models.

It also worked on getting certifications for upgrades to the cockpits on corporate aircraft, including electronic flight instrument upgrades, and special mission modifications.

“Adding 3S Engineering as a stand-alone operation within our business portfolio is a perfect fit for our aircraft modification business areas,” Eren Ozmen, chairman and president of Sierra Nevada Corporation, said in a statement. “Their team’s Designated Engineering Representatives’ and ODA support for all disciplines meshes well with our world-class manned aircraft modification capabilities.”

The organization will work closely with Sierra Nevada Corp.’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and integrated mission systems businesses. And it will work with existing and new customers.

“It’s going to be fun,” Shields said. “We’re looking forward to it. Sierra Nevada is a great company. They don’t want to change what we’ve been doing. They want to support us and to grow.”

Sierra Nevada, based in Sparks, Nev., currently is in competition with Hawker Beechcraft Corp. to win a lucrative light air support contract from the U.S. Air Force.

Hawker Beechcraft is offering its AT-6, a modified T-6 trainer, while Sierra Nevada has partnered with Brazil-based Embraer to offer the Super Tucano.

The Air Force originally awarded Sierra Nevada the contract, but it pulled the $354 million award after Hawker Beechcraft challenged the award, saying it had been wrongly eliminated from the competition.

The Air Force launched an internal investigation and said it wasn’t satisfied with the documentation that supported the initial decision.

Earlier this summer, the companies resubmitted bids for the contract to supply planes to help security efforts in Afghanistan.

The Air Force expects to make a decision in January.

Contact Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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