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Locally-grown Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation acquired by Boeing

Flying cars, anyone? The Boeing Corporation just acquired Manassas-based Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation to help it develop such a technology. 

From an email: 

Boeing plans to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, a world-class innovator, developer and manufacturer of advanced aerospace platforms under an agreement signed by the companies. Aurora specializes in autonomous systems technologies to enable advanced robotic aircraft for future aerospace applications and vehicles.

Leveraging autonomous systems that include perception, machine learning, and advanced flight control systems, Aurora has designed, produced and flown more than 30 unmanned air vehicles since the company was founded in 1989. Aurora is a leader in the emerging field of electric propulsion for aircraft. During the last decade, Aurora has collaborated with Boeing on the rapid prototyping of innovative aircraft and structural assemblies for both military and commercial applications.

“Since its inception, Aurora has been focused on the development of innovative aircraft that leverage autonomy to make aircraft smarter,” said John Langford, Aurora Flight Sciences founder and chief executive officer. “As an integral part of Boeing, our pioneered technologies of long-endurance aircraft, robotic co-pilots, and autonomous electric VTOLs will be transitioned into world-class products for the global infrastructure.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed… Once acquired, Aurora will be a subsidiary under Boeing Engineering Test & Technology known as Aurora Flight Sciences, A Boeing Company. It will retain an independent operating model while benefiting from Boeing’s resources and position as the leading provider of aerospace products and services.

Headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, Aurora Flight Sciences has more than 550 employees and operates in six states in the U.S. including a research and development center located near MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, manufacturing facilities in Bridgeport, West Virginia and Columbus, Mississippi with offices in Dayton, Ohio, Mountain View, California and Luzern, Switzerland.

Aurora got its start with help from the Flory Small Business Center in Prince William County.  The company was recogonzied by the Flory Center last year: 

Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation is a “homegrown” company.  It was founded by Dr. John Langford to develop, produce, market, and operate a new generation of unmanned aircraft.  From its humble beginnings with 2 employees working in 2 small rented offices, the company has grown to over 500 employees in four states and an office in Luzern, Switzerland.  They are internationally recognized as a leader in the development and manufacturing of advanced unmanned systems and aerospace vehicles.

Dr. Langford moved his business into rental space at the Manassas Airport and by 1992 was seeking additional expansion opportunities, including the possibility of relocating to Boulder, Colorado.   He was referred to the Flory Small Business Center and their staff began working with Aurora to obtain financing that would allow the company to expand locally.   The Flory Center’s staff, together with members of a local Industrial Development Authority began making state and local elected officials aware of Aurora and the importance of retaining their company in the local area.  The Flory Center, working with the City of Manassas, wrote a proposal that resulted in the first grant given in Northern Virginia from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.  Governor Doug Wilder approved the grant for infrastructure at the Manassas Airport to help Aurora build a new office/hangar facility.  

As Aurora grew, the company roots remained in Virginia and continued a series of expansions at the Manassas Airport.  The Manassas location currently has three buildings with a total of four hangar bays and is used for ongoing development, rapid prototyping, and as a home base for corporate operations.  Dr. Langford was the first recipient of the U.S. SBA’s prestigious Tibbett’s Award in 1998 and continues to be recognized for his accomplishments.

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