OLYMPIA — Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. will begin testing its new airliner in Moses Lake next fall.
The Japanese aerospace company said it signed a contract to begin testing its new regional airplane, the MRJ, with a company based at the Grant County International Airport.
The MJR, for Mitsubishi Regional Jet, is a 70-90 seat aircraft, which will be flight tested in Japan as well as Moses Lake. The company said today it signed a letter of intent with Aerospace Testing Engineering & Certification, or AeroTEC, to begin Moses Lake testing in 2015.
Mitsubishi said it selected Grant County International, the old home of Larson Air Force Base, due to a large aerospace cluster in the state and airport features which include long runways, flexibility for takeoffs and landings because there are no regular transport services, and high chances of fair weather.
The company made the announcement at the Farnborough Air Show in England. Gov. Jay Inslee, who is in Farnborough to push Washington’s aerospace industry, said the state would be honored to help prove the plane’s improved fuel use, noise reductions and safety. “It also further solidifies the long-standing economic and cultural relationshipe Washington has enjoyed with the nation of Japan.”
For many years, JAL, one of Japan’s major carriers, trained its crews on takeoffs and landings in Boeing jetliners at the Grant County airport, a practice that sometimes had travelers crossing the state on Interstate 90 wondering why a 747 was circling low over Moses Lake.