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Aurora Flight Sciences opens major expansion of Mississippi manufacturing facility

Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, a leader in the design and production of specialized unmanned aircraft and other advanced aerospace vehicles, today celebrated the opening of its expanded Mississippi manufacturing plant located at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport (GTR), Columbus, MS.

Aurora opened its initial Mississippi facility in the spring of 2005. In May of 2007 the company opened a purpose-built 21,000 square feet of manufacturing space at GTR. The latest expansion includes an additional 64,300 square feet of manufacturing space with 5,000 square feet of office space for expanded design and engineering capacity. This $15 million investment by Aurora in buildings and facilities marks a major commitment of resources by the company and comes as a result of expanded work being done in Mississippi.

On hand to mark the opening of Aurora's newest facility were Mississippi's United States Senator Thad Cochran and U.S. Representative Travis Childers. Childers represents Mississippi's First District, including Columbus, and holds the seat previously held by Senator Roger Wicker. The event was emceed by Aurora Flight Sciences President and CEO John Langford.

During his remarks, Senator Cochran said, "This is just the kind of capability our military has been asking for in order to provide cost-effective airborne surveillance twenty-four hours a day to our soldiers on the battlefield, and I look forward to the day full production Orion aircraft roll out of this hangar for delivery to the Department of Defense. I am proud to say that Aurora Flight Sciences is a fine example of the type of industry we want in Mississippi."

Aurora's Mississippi operation fabricates composite aerostructures. The facility currently provides airframe design, assembly and integration of the high performance Orion HALL (High Altitude, Long Loiter) hydrogen powered Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and other Aurora unmanned aircraft, including the GoldenEye 50 and GoldenEye 80. Manned aircraft work at the Mississippi operation will also include the parts for the Sikorsky Aircraft MH-60 helicopter.

The facility includes clean rooms, climate-controlled material storage and all other items necessary for high-quality composite aerostructures fabrication. The new expansion will have a cargo bay capable of supporting airframes with wing spans as wide as 250 feet. "This is a first-rate facility, with first-rate Mississippi employees. We look forward to growing this business as we compete and win more business," said Greg Stewart, Aurora's Director of Development.

"Aurora Flight Sciences' expansion represents an important investment in Mississippi's economic development and growth, and I am extremely pleased that this is taking place right here in North Mississippi," said Congressman Childers. "The corporation has always been an important part of our community and their expansion represents an ongoing commitment to our future."

Dr. Langford said, "This expansion is a major commitment on behalf of Aurora to grow and build our capabilities here in Mississippi. We're thrilled to be part of the Golden Triangle aerospace complex and growing prosperity of this region and the people who call it home. We also take great pride in knowing that this state-of-the-art technology is a valued part of our nation's defense. What we are doing is ultimately helping our warfighters -- the men and women of the United States armed forces who are on the front lines in the fight to protect the United States, our families, and the freedoms we enjoy."

Senator Wicker, who was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts, commented, "This expansion represents Aurora's commitment to both the Golden Triangle Region and our men and women in uniform. Unmanned aerial vehicles are a high priority for our military because of the critical role they play in protecting our troops and helping them do their jobs more effectively. The work being done by Aurora helps our military meet this critical need while also creating high-skilled, good-paying jobs for Mississippians."

Press release issued by Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing Company on October 16, 2008


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