Sunvair vice presdient Mike Dann, left, and president Kerry Jarandson, right, sit at a table in the company's conference room. Katharine Lotze/Signal
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Sunvair, the Valencia-based firm that specializes in overhauling aircraft landing gears, recently moved its operation into a larger plant, nearly tripling the 28,000 square feet it occupied in its former space to about 88,000 square feet in its new location.

“We’re definitely in growth mode and we’re hiring local folks,” said Kerry Jarandson, president of Sunvair. “So, it’s a good time for us.”

Sunvair employee Humberto Castro works on landing gear parts in the company's warehouse. Katharine Lotze/Signal
Sunvair employee Humberto Castro works on landing gear parts in the company’s warehouse. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Administrative, technicians and mechanical positions are among the jobs the company is looking to fill.

“We have a pretty good internal training program,” said Jarandson. “We’ll hire folks that don’t necessarily have that experience and give them a lot of OJT (on the job training). Sometimes it’s hard to find people with the experience we want but we train them and get them up to speed.”

The move came about after the company outgrew its last building, but the new location also provides apce for improvements to their shop capabilities.

Among the additions will be a new state of the art nickel and chrome plating facility.

“There’s a lot of demand for that kind of operation,” said Jarandson. “There’s always been a need for good-quality plating facilities with quick turnaround time.”

Workers finish assembling a state-of-the-art metal coating tank system in Sunvair's warehouse. The company currently uses a tank in the San Fernando Valley to coat its parts, but this one will be operational in about three weeks. Katharine Lotze/Signal
Workers finish assembling a state-of-the-art metal coating tank system in Sunvair’s warehouse. The company currently uses a tank in the San Fernando Valley to coat its parts, but this one will be operational in about three weeks. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Mike Dann, Sunvair’s vice president of sales and business development, added that the kind of plating the new facility will handle is not easy to find in this region.

“Other than decorative chroming, there’s no aerospace chroming in this area,” he said.

Plating facilities play a crucial role in the landing gear overhaul work the company does.

The company restores parts, such as axles, by building up a layer of chrome or nickel that replaces the base metal.

“We bring them back to design size that they were intended to be,” said Dann. “A lot of these aircraft are flying in highly corrosive environments.”

Sunvair machinists grind down and remove corroded steel and build it back up with chrome or nickel and then finish grinding it back to the original specifications.

“It really allows us to restore a lot of these parts and extend the life of them,” said Dann.

Workers at Sunvair paint landing gear parts in their new building on the Old Road on Oct. 24. Katharine Lotze/Signal
Workers at Sunvair paint landing gear parts in their new building on the Old Road on Oct. 24. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Depending on the OEM, landing gears need to be overhauled after eight to 10 years. They all have different life cycles they’ve established. Also, the FAA demands that they’re overhauled after a designated number of landings and takeoffs.

The customer – who can be located anywhere in the country – removes and ships the landing gear to the Valencia facility.

They usually arrive in a 5 ½-foot by 7 foot wooden crate. Workers then go about taking the gear apart and refurbishing worn parts, a process that can take from 30 to 50 days.

“We’ll receive them, tear them apart, perform the overhaul process, crate them back up and ship them back out to them,” said Jarandson, “Wherever they may be.”

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