State aerospace group agrees on collaboration - East Valley Tribune: News

State aerospace group agrees on collaboration

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Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 5:24 pm | Updated: 1:31 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

There's no brick-and-mortar space yet. Not even a virtual presence. But the planned Arizona Aerospace Institute now has at least one formal international connection.

There's no brick-and-mortar space yet. Not even a virtual presence. But the planned Arizona Aerospace Institute now has at least one formal international connection.

Arizona representatives in Canada last week, led by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, exchanged a letter of understanding with Aero Montréal, an aerospace think tank whose aim is to bring together leaders in the aerospace sector for education and information.

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"We've agreed to share best practices," said Robert Johnson, chair of the 19-member advisory board for the Arizona Aerospace Institute, which was formed in February.

Johnson, former chairman of Honeywell Aerospace, views the collaboration as one of potentially sharing research to promote each group's work.

Johnson said their Canadian counterparts reached out to them upon hearing about efforts in Arizona to promote aviation research, with the ultimate aim of retaining and attracting related industries in the state.

"It's a similar consortium of Canadian aerospace companies who have a similar relationship forming for aerospace research and education. It just seemed to fit well," Johnson said.

For now, Arizona's initiative - supported by a range of entities including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Science Foundation Arizona and Mayo Clinic - is in the embryonic stage, Johnson said. But he said progress is being made toward getting the money and an action plan together to put forth a proposal this fall to Kirk Adams, speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, who has led the initiative from the outset. Johnson said he then expects the plans for the public-private venture to be presented "in some form" to the state Legislature.

Real estate developer DMB Associates of Scottsdale also is a key player in the effort. Its 3,200-acre land close to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport southeast of Elliot and Ellsworth roads in Mesa is slated to be the site for the institute's physical location.

But the institute would be of value to all of Arizona, said Johnson, explaining the involvement of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council in the venture.

"Having the research here and the talent will benefit both companies, as well as Arizona," he said. "It's all about developing skill sets in Arizona."

Johnson said he doesn't view the Canadian group as a competitor.

"In fact, it's just another reinforcement that there's a need for such an institute, except that this is another cluster in the Montreal area," he said.

Research efforts could range from alternative sources of jet fuel for the Air Force to building lighter aircraft that use less fuel.

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