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Spirit AeroSystems To Build Large Research And Development Center In Scotland

Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.

Spirit AeroSystems announced Tuesday it would build a new research and development complex at its manufacturing site in Prestwick, Scotland.

The new center will be 70,000 square feet, nearly 10 times larger than the current facility. It will focus on several areas, including composite materials and virtual/augmented reality.

"The next generation of aircraft doesn't exist yet, and that's what we're concentrating on,” Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile said in a statement. “Our engineers are inventing the future of flight."

Construction will begin later this year. The center is expected to open in 2019.

Spirit is Wichita’s largest employer. In addition to Scotland, it also has facilities in France, Malaysia, Oklahoma and North Carolina.

The company is one of the largest manufacturers of aerostructures in the world and the biggest Boeing supplier. Its Prestwick site builds wing components, including those used on Airbus aircraft.

"This innovation center of excellence will feature the kind of specialized design and research work that we are known for," John Pilla, Spirit's senior vice president and chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Tom Shine is director of news and public affairs at KMUW. Follow him on Twitter @thomaspshine.