Boeing to take over the Future of Flight

By Ian Davis-Leonard | Aug 01, 2018

Boeing is spreading its wings further into Snohomish County with the recent announcement that the aircraft manufacturing giant will be taking over the Future of Flight Aviation Center in Mukilteo.

The Future of Flight Aviation Center, which opened in 2005, is the county’s largest tourist attraction, drawing upward of 300,000 visitors each year.

“We think the success of the Future of Flight and Aviation Center can be even improved with Boeing’s extraordinary financial assists, technological assets and global reach, that they can bring to bear,” said Kent Patton, the Communications Director for the Snohomish County Executive Office. “They have the ability to do a lot with that space to make it even better than it is today.”

Boeing and Snohomish County signed a letter of intent earlier this month that laid out the framework of an agreement that results in Boeing being the sole lessee of the space. Boeing has long been a lessee of space at the Future of Flight, renting 20 percent of the facility as a starting point for its Boeing Tours.

Todd Kelley of Boeing’s media relations and communication team said the company sees this as an opportunity to increase the overall impact of the facility.

“Boeing is considering near-term and longer term investments that will make the Future of Flight a premier destination in Puget Sound,” Kelley said.

Snohomish County entered the process of finding a new manager and operator for the county-owned facility last year with hopes of locating a partner with greater resources and access to technology to expand the museum.

After originally approaching the Museum of Flight in Seattle and not coming away with a deal, Boeing became the facility’s largest suitor.

“Sometimes it was felt that it was almost the past of flight and we really want it to be the future of flight,” Patton said. “Boeing is going to be uniquely situated to help us push that space to something that no one else has.”

While details are not finalized, Patton expects the Future of Flight Aviation Center to be a bigger, better and improved facility that will feel much like a new place.

“We really appreciated our partnership with the Institute of Flight. They were great partners, but after 13 years we felt it was a great opportunity to take that facility to the next level,” Patton said.

Despite the changing of the guard, Institute of Flight Executive Director Jeff Van Dyck hopes Boeing won’t dismantle many of the events that are already in place.

“I would really like to see the Future of Flight continue with its original mission of being an aviation center to learn more about the industry,” he said.

The facility has found success hosting community events, providing educational support including classes on robotics and 3-D printing, and as a gathering place for sporting events and happy hour.

“It would be nice to see some of those things that we’ve implemented continue to happen,” Van Dyck said.

To this point, the county and Boeing have only reached an agreement on a letter of intent, but a detailed agreement regarding what a lease will look like is expected to be completed during the coming months.

It is at that time that Snohomish County hopes to be able to share more about the improvements that will be made at the Future of Flight.

“We should have more good news once we are able to announce that a lease is signed,” Patton said.

According to both sides, the plan is to maintain the Future of Flight as an open space for the public.

“Our lease agreement acknowledges that this will continue to be a public facility,” Kelley said.  “From the initial building of this facility, Boeing welcomed the opportunity to use the Future of Flight as the public gateway to their factory tour.

“We take great pride in our engagement with both the local community and the global community at this location.  We hope to continue to see this grow.”

While it is extremely difficult to predict an increase of tourists based on the change in ownership, Patton says that the county expects the Future of Flight will remain the area’s top tourist attraction.

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