SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Aircraft manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. said Monday it plans to add 1,000 employees over the next seven years as part of a $500 million expansion plan.

Management cited order bookings, which increased in the third quarter to the highest level since mid-2008. Volume at its service centers also has improved as flight hours have increased.

"We are already beginning to see signs of a modest recovery," said Joe Lombardo, the company's president. "This expansion is necessary to meet the projected increase for new business-jet aircraft and the maintenance that will follow."

The planned hiring boost would amount to a 15 percent increase in the company's work force, which now stands at around 5,500.

Gulfstream plans to hire production specialists, engineers and support technicians, among other positions.

As part of the expansion plan, Gulfstream would build new facilities and renovate others in Savannah.

Gulfstream Aerospace is a subsidiary of Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp.

Shares in General Dynamics added 47 cents to $67.97 in afternoon trading.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.