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Ravell Call, Deseret News
People tour the facilities during the grand opening celebration of ATK's new Aircraft Commercial Center of Excellence in Clearfield, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011.

CLEARFIELD — ATK has embarked on a new journey, one that company officials estimate will add as many as 800 new jobs in the next 20 years.

Company officials and local dignitaries Monday celebrated the opening of ATK's state-of-the-art, 615,000-square-foot Aircraft Commercial Center for Excellence at the Freeport Center.

The facility becomes ATK's headquarters for commercial aircraft programs and the manufacturing site for composite airframe and engine components for the Airbus A350.

"(Commercial aircraft) is a fairly new market for ATK, and that's what makes today really exciting," said Joy de Lisser, vice president and general manager of aerospace structures for ATK. "It's kind of the start of the journey to continue to build this market space."

ATK already has received more than $1 billion in orders for commercial aircraft parts. For the Airbus A350, the facility will manufacutre stringers and frames, which combine to form the skeleton of the plane.

"Combined with our $500 million of orders for military aircraft composite structures, ATK is in two high-growth markets for the long term," said Blake Larson, president of areospace systems for ATK.

Company officials say the Aircraft Commercial Center of Excellence will allow ATK to manufacture high-quailty composite parts at high production levels.

Barry Eccleston, president and CEO of Airbus Americas, called ATK's automated manufacturing methods "innovation at its finest."

"That's why we're here today in Clearfield," Eccleston said. "ATK has that technology (and) that innovation to supply the production rate that we need for the A350 program."

ATK initially will produce 700 parts per month, though that number will accelerate as the market expands, company officials said. Evenutally, ATK officials expect to be producing 10,000 parts per month.

That level of production would create about 800 jobs, de Lisser said. ATK already has hired about 100 to work at the new center, she said.

"With the hands-on training we offer, this growth creates an opportunity to devleop a workforce possessing the high-tech skills needed in the aerospace industry," de Lisser said.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com, hollenhorst@desnews.com