It cost $20,000 to put together the bid, but that bid brought a $1 million contract to a small Utah County company that designs composite aircraft parts.
McDonnell Douglas on Tuesday awarded Winding Technologies Corp. of Springville a $1 million contract to build wind deflectors for the doors paratroopers jump through in the Air Force's newest jumbo cargo plane, the C-17."Bidding is a lengthy and expensive process," said Jim Winegar, WTC marketing manager. WTC researched and submitted a proposal on how it could produce the part and at what cost.
"Preparing a bid is a gamble for a small company, but it's part of the gamble we have to take. You win some and lose some. Sometimes when you cast your bread upon the water all you get is soggy bread."
Information on other bidders was not released, but Winegar speculated three or four companies had bid.
The contract could be worth as much as $6 million if the government exercises all its options and orders as many as 40 air deflectors a year for the next 10 years.
"The government will make its decisions on the number of planes it needs based on economics and the stability of the free world," Winegar said.
The door air deflectors - small panels with air holes - lessen wind turbulence on paratroopers jumping out of planes.
"The Air Force learned by sad experience what can happen without these deflectors," Winegar said. The extra turbulence had sent paratroopers spinning head over heels or slapped them against their aircrafts, he said.
This is the first production contract for the 2-year-old company that has specialized in designing aircraft parts made of composite material. The basic recipe for composite material WTC will use is glue and fiber. Current techniques can produce material much stronger and lighter than metal, Winegar said.
"We use composites made of epoxy and resin systems. We take two non-homogenous parts and mix them together - just as mixing straw and mud will give you adobe, which is stronger than its separate elements."
WTC has 40 full-time employees and will gradually add at least 20 more as the project gets under way, he said.
Winegar said WTC will outgrow its current facility and is considering building in Springville's industrial park or acquiring an existing building in Utah County. Company officials have considered the vacant Kirby building in Spanish Fork.
The bid award was announced at a news conference Tuesday where Gov. Norm Bangerter also announced the establishment of a Utah Aerospace development task force. The group will direct and focus Utah's efforts for business growth in the aerospace field. It will be composed of top officials from 11 of Utah's leading aerospace companies.
"I am charging this task force to provide the leadership to create 20,000 new aerospace jobs in the next five years," Bangerter said.