Thrush Aircraft Employs Hundreds in Skilled Manufacturing Jobs

Barbara Kieker

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

One of every six jobs in production, craft, repair, and machine operation was lost in the first two years of the recession, according to a 2010 white paper by MIT economist David Autor.  While the rest of the country struggles with the loss of middle-class manufacturing jobs, Albany is home to a thriving company that employs hundreds of skilled workers – Thrush Aircraft, Inc.

"All our manufacturing workers are skilled in one of six or seven trades such as welding, machining and assembly.  We have the kind of jobs that are disappearing in America," said Thrush Aircraft Vice President of Sales Eric Rojek.

Thrush aircraft are used for agricultural spray operations, fire control, drug eradication, border surveillance, fuel transport to remote locations and mosquito and locust control.  Thrush aircraft are designed for mass use over large acreage.  Since 1966, more than 3,000 Thrush aircraft have been delivered and 2,200 are still in operation in 80 countries around the world.

Raw Material In, Aircraft Out
Thrush manufactures its aircraft at its 225,000 square foot offices and production facility in Albany.  The company will produce approximately 50 aircraft this year and Rojek expects that to increase to as many as 60 aircraft in 2013.

While Thrush produces four models, two models – the 510P and 510G – account for 90 percent of production.  Raw materials such as metal, fiberglass and parts come into the Albany facility and finished aircraft come out ready for delivery.

"Our aircraft are higher quality because we do all work in-house," Rojek said.

The factory is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including water jet, laser cutter, CNC brake and CNC machining centers, roll form, punch presses, chemical treat processing and more.  Its work force is experienced in design, tooling production, planning, product manufacturing and support and customer service.

"As an OEM, one of our biggest challenges is the long lead time for many of our parts.  The longest lead time is for engines, which is two years, and it's a one-year lead time for many other parts," he said.

"Our production schedules are locked in six months out, which means we are constantly looking in a crystal ball to project volumes."

Adding a GE Engine to the Product Line
"Without question our biggest innovation has been the addition of the 510G model, which is powered by the GE H80 turbine engine.  We're the exclusive provider of this engine in our industry," Rojek said.

According to Rojek, the 510G is lighter, more fuel-efficient and offers greater hopper capacity.  It will be available later this summer following certification by the FAA.

"We still offer the Pratt and Whitney engine on the 510P.  Now we can offer customers a choice to better meet their needs," he said.

More information on Thrush Aircraft is available at

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.