L3 plane making splash at Paris Air Show Mike Copeland: L3 making splash at Paris Air Show; H-E-B, Dick’s building permits; Texas 3rd in business ranking; Gas prices continue slide

L3 Technologies’ plant in Waco is getting a lot of attention at the International Paris Air Show because of an attack aircraft L3 has placed on static display that it hopes to find customers for.

The AT-802L Longsword represents a collaboration between L3 Platform Integration, which employs about 1,400 in Waco, and Air Tractor Inc. of Olney, which will build the craft for modification in Waco.

The plane “is a fully certified light-attack aircraft that provides more loiter time and greater weapons payload than other aircraft in its class,” L3 Aerospace Systems President Mark Von Schwarz said in a press release. “Regardless of the mission, Longsword delivers a variety of sensors and weapons at the lowest risk and price in the market.”

L3’s spokesman in Waco, Lance Martin, said the company is not yet prepared to divulge the sales price as it continues to negotiate deals.

Martin said work related to modifying the Longsword would not necessarily create additional jobs locally, but he could not rule out employment increases if sales of the plane skyrocket.

Aviation Week magazine, which is covering the Paris Air Show, devoted an article to the Longsword, saying that L3 will “convert the AT-802 into a bomb truck with a range of weapons from Hellfire missiles to Gatling guns, Mk82 bombs and M260 rocket launchers.”

It said the U.S. State Department in January approved the potential sale of 14 of the aircraft to Kenya. Besides weaponry, Kenya has asked that L3 install weather radar and communications systems on the planes.

The story states that Kenya chose the Longsword “based on having come to Waco, Texas, where L3’s Platform Integration office is based.”

Texas ranks 3rd for starting a business

FitSmallBusiness.com ranks Texas as the third-best state in the nation in which to start a business, behind only North Carolina and Utah.

It based its rankings on seven categories: access to capital, startup activity, taxes, cost of living, labor market, quality of life and cost of starting a business, according to its online report.

“Finishing in third place, Texas performs exceptionally well in six out of seven categories,” according to the report. “Entrepreneurs should seriously consider the Lone Star State when starting a business as it ranks eighth in startup activity, ninth in cost of living, 12th in labor market, 14th in both access to capital and taxes, and 20th in cost of doing business. No other state posted such a consistently high ranking in almost all categories.”

Rounding out the top 10 behind Texas were Indiana, Montana, Missouri, Michigan, New Hampshire, Washington and Massachusetts.

Statewide gas prices continue slide

What’s with gas prices? At a time when they should surge, they continue to drop, according to the auto club AAA Texas. It reports they dropped another nickel statewide during the past week ending Thursday.

“That’s 3 cents less than the average per gallon of regular unleaded than on the same day last year,” AAA said in its survey released Thursday.

Analysts credit high oil production rates in the U.S., coupled with news from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that Libya and Nigeria have increased output, adding additional inventory to an already oversupplied global market, according to the AAA Texas report. It said gas prices nationwide could fall through the end of June.

Notable building permits

A couple of building permits were attention grabbers last week.

The Tribune-Herald reported that Dick’s Sporting Goods will renovate about 44,000 square feet of space in Richland Mall for a new store. What was not known was that a building permit valued the work at $5.7 million.

Also, H-E-B has secured a permit to place a curbside grocery pickup facility at its store oat 9100 Woodway Drive. It will cost about $200,095.

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