July 16--MOSES LAKE -- Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation announced Monday it will conduct all of its U.S. flight testing for their new aircraft in Moses Lake beginning in fall 2015.
The Japanese aerospace company partnered with AeroTEC, a Seattle-based flight test engineering company, to begin testing three of its new regional aircraft, the MRJ 90s, at the Grant County International Airport.
AeroTEC anticipated having about 80 to 100 employees on the ground during the testing period of at least three years.
The decision was announced Monday at the Farnborough Air Show in England.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who is in London for the air show, said the partnership to conduct testing in Moses Lake adds to the state's legacy of aerospace leadership.
For nearly 100 years, Washington state has been the place where the world's best commercial airplanes take their earliest flights," Inslee said. "It will be an honor to have this airplane, one that promises significant reductions in fuel usage, noise and emissions, prove its safety and value to the market in our state. It also further solidifies the long standing economic and cultural relationship Washington has enjoyed with the nation of Japan."
AeroTEC announced it will construct a new 65,000 square foot, wide body aircraft hanger at the airport to accommodate the project, with construction set to start in October and projected to be finished next July. AeroTEC President Lee Human said Moses Lake was selected as the location for the new facility because of its superior flying weather, clear airspace, flat topography and long, wide runways. These conditions make Moses Lake an ideal location for flight test operations.
"Moses Lake has become an important part of our company's future," Human said. "We are thrilled to be making a significant investment in Moses Lake with the building of our new hangar at the Grant County International Airport in support of the flight testing for Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation."
The MRJ 90 is a completely new, fuel-efficient commercial aircraft being built in Nagayo, Japan, and is scheduled to enter service in 2017.
As a result of more than $11.8 million invested in facility improvements, the Port of Moses Lake has recently recruited several world class aerospace companies to Grant County. In addition to AeroTEC, Aviation Technical Services, one of the nation's largest maintenance, repair and overhaul companies, and Greenpoint Technologies, a Boeing Business Jet Completion provider, have located operations at the airport. Boeing continues to test its aircraft manufactured in the state at Moses Lake.
"This latest project strengthens the Port of Moses Lake's position as one of the best locations in the world for flight testing," port Executive Director Patrick Jones said. "Boeing, the U.S. Department of Defense, and now Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, rely on this airport for their testing needs. We are extremely excited about the new hangar, the expansion of our world class aerospace cluster and look forward to assisting both AeroTEC and Mitsubishi in the near future."
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