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BRUNSWICK — Is it a boat? Is it a plane?
Depending on the outcome of a new development at Brunswick Landing, it could be both.
The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the agency redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station for civilian use, announced Friday, Jan. 22, that Minnesota-based aircraft developer MVP Aero will be developing a new amphibious aircraft at Brunswick Landing.
“We’re thrilled to have MVP Aero choose Brunswick Landing for this project,” MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said in a press release Friday. “We are extremely well-suited to a project like this with runways, hangars and world-class technical capability, and we believe MVP’s choice will not only be good for them, but the region.”
Levesque pointed to the presence of composites laboratories on the former base as a big draw for the aircraft developer.
In the press release, MVP said the aircraft’s wings can be folded when the plane is on the water, “allowing (it) to access thousands of destinations such as marinas and boathouses, which are unavailable to other aircraft.”
The new model, called the MVP-2, could also be able to be trailered like a boat and stored off site from an airport, according to the release.
Achieving such capabilities will require the use of advanced composite materials.
“One of (MVP’s) investors is Paul Richards, who has another company at Brunswick Landing called Wireless Sensors,” Levesque said in a phone interview Friday. “He became convinced that Brunswick Landing was a good place for them to develop the aircraft, given the composites … and the partnerships that exist around that.”
Brunswick Landing is home to Southern Maine Community College’s Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering Center, which works with composite companies to develop training and testing, according to MRRA’s website.
Although the announcement of MVP’s choice of Brunswick Landing was made Friday at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, Levesque said MVP signed a lease with MRRA last month.
The company will start aircraft design from a desk at TechPlace, he said, which is Brunswick Landing’s technology accelerator and business incubator. It offers shared workspace, small office space, and manufacturing space.
Leasing a desk at TechPlace costs $200 a month; leasing an office ranges from $500-$600, and large shop spaces run at $2,500 a month, according to Levesque.
That means there is “room to grow,” he said. “… Eventually we hope they will be making the aircraft in some of our large hangar spaces.”
With its large runways and hangar spaces leftover from the Navy, “we want to be a focal point for the aviation industry,” Levesque said. “We want to grow it in Maine.”
MVP Business Development Director Paul Richards said Friday that he estimated it would take between 18 months and two years to get the prototype in the air.
A mock-up of Minnesota-based MVP Aero’s amphibious aircraft, which the company will be developing at Brunswick Landing.