Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates Opening of UMass Aviation Research and Training Center

CHICOPEE – Today Governor Charlie Baker, Congressman Richard Neal, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera were joined by representatives from the ‘State and Locals at Westover Air Reserve Base to celebrate the opening of UMass Transportation Center’s Aviation Research and Training Center, which is equipped with technology that creates new cutting-edge research opportunities in a variety of areas, including unmanned aircraft operations and air traffic control. Also today, attendees celebrated the completion of the Runway 05-23 Reconstruction Project, critical infrastructure that will ensure Westover remains a key part of the United States Air Force base network for the long term. “With this combination of investments, we are proud to support the continued success of Westover, which is expected to remain an important part of the future of the Air Force and the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As the industry continues to evolve, this center will provide the next generation of aviation professionals with the best training and research we can offer, and serve as a model for how we can adopt new technologies to accelerate the creation of new employment and innovation opportunities.” Massachusetts is well known as a global innovation leader and this facility allows us to maintain that edge by focusing on aeronautical training and technology”, said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Congratulations to everyone involved on reaching this important milestone and I look forward to seeing this facility play a vital role in the future aviation workforce and the new and innovative developments it will surely support. ” The new 8,500 square foot facility was built in part with support from a $5 million grant to UMass Amherst from the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force (MASS-TF). In addition to the Commonwealth’s financial commitment, the Buehler Foundation provided $500,000 to purchase the air traffic control simulator. The simulator, which has 360-degree capabilities, will provide opportunities for advanced aeronautical research and training programs with military and civilian applications. Additionally, the center will serve as a training center for the northeast region for individuals pursuing a career in air transport, including air traffic control. After the training facility opened, officials also celebrated the completion of the complete reconstruction of Westover Runway 05-23. Spanning a distance of approximately 2.2 miles, Runway 05-23 is the third longest military runway on the US East Coast. The rebuilding project was critical to the success of Westover’s shift in operations to accommodate the C-5M, the aircraft model used by the Air Force’s 439.and Tactical Airlift Wing. The complete reconstruction was carried out with federal funding of approximately $31 million. Westover is the nation’s largest Air Force reserve base and home to more than 5,500 military and civilian workers. According to a recent study by the UMass Donahue Institute, the base contributes more than $380 million to the Commonwealth economy and supports more than 8,000 jobs. “For decades, Westover has played a vital role in supporting national defense while also serving as a major economic engine for the region, said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “Through this series of investments, we are building on that tradition by leveraging cutting-edge technology to create new career paths in important fields and new opportunities for aviation research and innovation.”

“This is a great day for Air Reserve Base Westover as we celebrate the investments that will support the facility’s mission in the near and long term,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is proud of its role as the lead agency of the Massachusetts Military Assets and Security Strategy Task Force as it works to maintain the competitiveness of our six military installations, strengthening both national security and our national and local economies.” “Westover Air Reserve Base is an integral part of our community and an engine of our economy here in Western Massachusetts,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “With the opening today of the UMass Transportation Center Aviation Research and Training Center and the reopening of the heavily trafficked Runway 05-32, we are ensuring that Westover enjoys continued success for generations to come. . I’m proud to have fought in Congress for the $32 million needed to resurface the runway so the C-5s and other aircraft that call Westover home have the facilities they need to patrol the east coast and beyond. “The Commonwealth is fortunate to have so many leaders working in a bipartisan and collaborative way to expand opportunities for the citizens of Massachusetts,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “The center we celebrate today is an example of how such a collaborative, goal-oriented and evidence-based approach to public investment can help advance the common good.” “By establishing the Center for Aviation Research and Training, the UMass Amherst Transportation Center is training the next generation of aviation scientists, engineers and professionals. We conduct critical research on aeronautics and idle air systems. And we engage with society by providing training for air traffic controllers, pilots and airline operators,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “The university continues to pioneer discovery to advance the common good and this hub will be felt across the Commonwealth and beyond. In celebrating this exciting facility, we are witnessing the power of bringing together infrastructure funding of the state; the university’s academic talent; and stability and growing support for Washington-sponsored research.” This new aviation training center will meet a critical manpower need in the air traffic control profession. air traffic, and bring UMass students and faculty to this vibrant new airfield where future partnerships and research will thrive.” Director Mike Knodler, UMass Transportation Center. “The completion of the runway renovation project is absolutely critical to the Patriot Wing’s ability to provide rapid global mobility,” said Col. Joseph D. Janik, commander of the 439th Airlift Wing. “Furthermore, given that Westover is approximately one hour closer to NATO nations in Europe than the next closest logistics base, this proximity is of great strategic value throughout the Air Reserve. Force, Air Mobility Command and US Transportation Command. The modernization of our infrastructures amplifies our ability to win the fight of tomorrow. “I want to thank Governor Baker, President Neal, MASS-TF and the University of Massachusetts for choosing Westover and Chicopee to build the Transportation and Research Center,” said Michael W. Bolton, President and CEO of Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation. “At the crossroads of New England with the longest track in New England, this is a perfect location! On behalf of Westover Development’s volunteer board of directors, welcome to Westover and Chicopee!

###