MOSES LAKE IN THE RUNNING FOR JET MANUFACTURING SITE.

Nov 30, 2016

The privately-held company is one of three U.S. startups looking to revive supersonic technology with a focus on business travelers. Because of the secrecy of the process, code-named “Project Eagle,” to protect the company’s plans, Spike Aerospace is gathering its information through a third-party firm to scope out potential locations. Grant County Economic Development executive director Linda Martin defended that secrecy, but did confirm Grant County submitted a proposal. “There is no way I can actually tie Spike Aerospace to the project we submitted for because it was a codename,” said Martin, who is also the director of the state Department of Commerce. “It was for an aviation company.” At an aerospace conference last month in Lynnwood, Spike’s chief executive officer Vik Kachoria said the company is considering several locations in Washington, including Spokane, Moses Lake and Everett, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, and that Washington was one of the top contenders for the factory they intend to build. The market for supersonic passenger jets has been dormant since the British-French Concorde airliner went out of service in 2003. Spike Aerospace is designing an 18-passenger supersonic jet that could fly from New York to Los Angeles in just over three hours. The company is one of three U.S. startups looking to revive supersonic technology with a focus on premium business travelers. Spike Aerospace has been working on designs for about three years and now employs about 45 engineers, the Spokesman-Review reported. Kachoria envisions a flying prototype sometime in 2018 and the first full-scale jet by 2023. The company expects its first plane, the S-512, would be built largely from composites and cost about $100 million. One selling point is noise-reduction technology that would lessen sonic boom sound, allowing the plane to be flown over land, according to the Spokesman-Review. The Grant County International Airport is a world-renowned site, featuring one of the longest runways in the world on what was once Larson Air Force Base. Boeing and Mitsubishi Aircraft Company are currently conducting flight tests there. According to the Grant County Economic Development Council, the region also has spacious land and industrial space. Everett on the other hand, has Boeing Commercial as Snohomish County’s major employer. There more than 200 aerospace companies with 44,000 workers in the county’s aerospace industry, according to the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County. Spokane is the largest Washington market Spike is gathering information on. More than 8,000 people in the Spokane region are employed by the aerospace industry, according to Greater Spokane Incorporated. That industry numbers more than 120 manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and organizations related to the worldwide aerospace industry.

Rodney Harwood can be reached at 509-765-4561 ext. 111 or businessag@columbiabasinherald.com

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