Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. will establish a Seattle engineering center with a local partner that will employ about 150 people to support its forthcoming MRJ regional jet, which will undergo flight testing in Moses Lake next year.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. said Tuesday it will establish a Seattle engineering center with a local partner that will employ about 150 people in support of its forthcoming MRJ regional jet.
The Seattle engineering center will be operated by local firm AeroTEC, which provides airplane manufacturers with engineering support to speed development and certification.
To accommodate the growth, AeroTEC will move in July to a new, substantially expanded facility in the Sodo area near its current site, said company President Lee Human.
Human said about 50 of the jobs will be filled by Mitsubishi engineers from Japan. AeroTEC has already assigned some 45 of its own engineers to MRJ support and is recruiting locally and internationally for the remaining 55 positions.
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“We’ll assist Mitsubishi Aircraft with the analysis and additional engineering support needed to expedite the certification and entry into service of the airplane,” Human said.
The MRJ is set to fly for the first time in Japan this October. Smaller than any of Boeing’s jets, it will come initially in 92-seat and 78-seat variants and is scheduled to enter service in 2017.
After the first flight, Mitsubishi will bring four test airplanes to Moses Lake next year for its flight-test program, also supported by AeroTEC. That’s one more test plane than originally planned.
Last July, at the Farnborough Air Show in England, Mitsubishi said the flight-test program would bring about 100 jobs for pilots, engineers and technicians to the Central Washington town. Human said Monday that figure may increase to support the additional test plane.
The jobs at the Seattle engineering center are in addition to those in Moses Lake.
Human said that once the initial MRJ model is certified, he expects AeroTEC to support the follow-on models as well as any modifications on the initial variants.
There has been discussion of developing a possible 110-seat version after the first two MRJ models are in service.
Alex Pietsch, director of Gov. Jay Inslee’s aerospace office, said the president of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. America briefed state officials on the planned jobs growth Monday.
The Seattle engineering center should both provide jobs for local engineers and bring additional aerospace talent to the region, he said.
“We’re excited,” Pietsch said, “We were hopeful all along that this relationship with Mitsubishi and the MRJ would continue to develop.”