AAI wins $43 million trolley contract


AAI Corp. and its foreign partner have emerged as the winner of a $43 million contract to build electric trolley buses for Dayton, Ohio.

While the contract is yet to be awarded, AAI officials yesterday expressed confidence that they will be involved in the production of up to 91 buses. The work, they said, will be a major thrust for the company as it reduces its dependency on military ** contracts.

Paul Guse, an AAI spokesman, said that the signing of a contract is contingent upon an inspection by representatives of the Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority of AAI's facilities in Cockeysville, as well as those of its Czech Republic partner, SKODA.

To meet a requirement of the Federal Transit Administration, which is funding up to 80 percent of the cost of the buses, the companies need to show that 60 percent of the work will be done in the United States.

L AAI anticipates the contract will be finalized in September.

Although the buses will draw their power from overhead electric cables, they will have rubber tires and ride on the street.

In February, AAI joined with SKODA in a joint venture to establish a new subsidiary, Electric Transit Inc. SKODA identifies itself as one of the world's largest electric trolley bus manufacturers.

Plans call for SKODA to ship unassembled bus shells and the propulsion systems to AAI's complex. Workers there will assembly the major components of each bus and propulsion system for testing before they are shipped to Electric Transit's factory in Dayton for final assembly.

The Dayton factory is expected to have about 40 workers, Mr. Guse said. AAI is not expected to hire additional employees at its Baltimore County complex, but Mr. Guse said the bus contract should help stabilize its current force.

AAI, a subsidiary of New York based United Industrial Corp., is primarily a defense contractor.

Richard R. Erkeneff, president and chief executive of AAI, said, "we have approached the transportation market through a strategy of alliances and teaming with world-renowned contractors."

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