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Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/07/2013 08:51:26 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO — Boeing test flights have returned to San Bernardino International Airport, a sign of recovery from what officials say was a long downturn under former developer Scot Spencer, who is facing five felony charges.

The world’s leading aerospace company has been testing 747s at the airport since late May and will stay through the middle of August, after leaving because of unhappiness with Spencer’s work, said the airport’s interim executive director, A.J. Wilson.

“I think they like the airport,” Wilson said. “The trouble was they had previously worked with Mr. Spencer and they didn’t like Mr. Spencer’s handling of the airport. We contacted them when we were in control of the airport, and they liked what they saw.”

Wilson took action to take control of the airport’s fuel facilities from Spencer after a February 2012 incident in which a pilot couldn’t get the full amount of fuel. Two of Spencer’s companies later declared bankruptcy, and in March, District Attorney Michael A. Ramos announced Spencer had been charged with five felonies, including two counts of conspiracy, for allegedly filing a fraudulent $1.75 million claim against the airport. Spencer pleaded not guilty.

Spencer was not the reason Boeing left, company spokeswoman Sandy Angers said in an email.

“No one person influences our flight test activities,” Angers said. “Boeing considers our test requirements as well as the capabilities and availability of air fields and other test facilities. Boeing chose the San Bernardino facility because of three factors: hangar size, availability and weather.”

Reasons for the return also included the proximity to other testing facilities — including Edwards Air Force Base; Roswell, N.M. and Fresno — and “San Bernardino airport’s great support of our test activities,” Angers said.

The tests relate to performance improvements on the 747-8 Intercontinental, including its engines and flight management computer software, she said.

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