AeroTEC lease approved by port commissioners

By Tiffany Sukola, September 1, 2014, Columbia Basin Herald

AeroTEC will be able to move forward with plans to construct a new hangar at the Grant County International Airport.

Port of Moses Lake commissioners recently approved a lease agreement with the company for about four acres of port property.

AeroTEC officials announced in July they would be building a 65,000 square foot, wide body aircraft hangar at the airport to accommodate flight testing of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation’s new MRJ 90 airliner. The port began negotiating lease terms with the company shortly after the announcement.

Earlier this week, port commissioners authorized executive director Patrick Jones to execute a finalized lease agreement with AeroTEC.

Under the terms, AeroTEC will lease the four acres for 40 years. Jones said the company has also guaranteed they will bring a certain amount of revenue to the port through landing fees and fuel fees from visiting aircraft in addition to the flat rate they will pay to lease the land.

Jones said the new hangar is the first privately-built large aircraft hangar at the airport.

“It’s a momentous project for us,” he said. “All previous large hangar projects were built by the federal government, that’s why this one is significant.”

Jones said the construction of the hangar represents a private capital investment of nearly $8.5 million into the airfield, as that is what they currently estimate the project to cost.

In July, AeroTEC president Lee Human said construction on the hangar would likely start in October and conclude by July.

Commission president Stroud Kunkle said the port will need to remove an old metal hangar, part of a ramp and some lights on the property for AeroTEC before they can start construction.

“Having a new hangar out there, it’s going to bring a new aviation presence to the airport,” he said. “After Japan Airlines left, the aviation part of it dropped, so this along with ATS and others, it’s just been a big aviation comeback for the port.”

In July, Human said Moses Lake was selected as the location for the new hangar because of its superior flying weather, clear airspace, flat topography and long, wide runways – which makes Moses Lake an ideal location for flight test operations.

“Moses Lake has become an important part of our company’s future,” Human said at the time. “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.”

AeroTEC also anticipated having about 80 to 100 employees on the ground during flight testing of the MRJ 90, a new, fuel-efficient commercial aircraft being built in Nagayo, Japan. The plane is scheduled to enter service in 2017.

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