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WACO Classic Aircraft of Battle Creek launched the Great Lakes Biplane model in 2013. WACO Classic Aircraft of Battle Creek launched the Great Lakes Biplane model in 2013. COURTESY FILE PHOTO

Niche aircraft manufacturer to expand in Battle Creek

BY Friday, May 03, 2019 11:42am

BATTLE CREEK — WACO Classic Aircraft Corp. is expanding its headquarters and operations in Southwest Michigan.

The project includes the construction of two new service hangars with “vintage-look” facades, a fabrication space addition, engine assembly addition, a new office, a fixed-base operator (FBO) to serve private aviation and a restaurant building at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek.

WACO is a niche manufacturer of vintage open cockpit biplanes that seat up to three people. The company currently makes two models, the 1920s-inspired WACO, which is available as an amphibious aircraft, and the Great Lakes.

The additions total more than 80,000 square feet and will be connected to WACO’s existing production and aircraft service facility. The project also will allow WACO to add a third vintage aircraft to its product line and expand its servicing and retrofitting business.

Officials plan to break ground on May 7. WACO anticipates finishing the project next year.

“(The groundbreaking) symbolizes the beginning of several new projects, which will expand our business,” WACO CEO Sven Lepschy said in a statement. “We are very excited to add value to the airport and local community and create new jobs for the future.”

Detroit-based Walbridge Construction Co. is handling design-build services on the expansion of WACO’s production facility and FBO operations center at the airport. Dearborn-based Ghafari Associates LLC, which has an office in Grand Rapids, is the design partner on the project.

Last November, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Dimor Group Inc., a division of Germany-based Dimor Aero GmbH, acquired WACO and fixed base operator Centennial Aircraft Services Inc., also of Battle Creek. At the time, the new ownership committed to maintain and expand operations in Southwest Michigan, as well as open new distribution and sales to the European market, according to a statement.

WACO President Peter Bowers remained with the company after the sale.

Dimor Aero established Dimor Group last year as a platform to buy, sell and rent various types of aircraft and provide maintenance and repair services.

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