Sky’s the limit for Huronia Airport as task force lands ambitious report

— By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

A two-hour presentation by the Huronia Airport Task Force was summed up inadvertently by community representative Roy Ellis.

“We actually need some direction before we go too far because we could be spinning our wheels,” stated Ellis, who no longer lives in the area, but has a hangar at the airport.

“If you have no desire to sell land, then c’est tout fini, it’s over. We will continue to operate the airport based on the mandate you’ve given us.”

Three North Simcoe joint-member municipalities were given the final report presentation. They include Tiny Township where airport CYEE is located, and the neighbouring towns of Midland and Penetanguishene.

The task force was established last year following a comprehensive business review of the organization, with three council members and four members from the respective communities comprising the seven-person task force along with additional staff involvement.

Ellis’ comment came near the tail end of the question-and-answer period between the various council members and the Huronia Airport Task Force.

The topic of land sale and land leasing was raised, with an additional explanation from Oshawa Executive Airport manager Stephen Wilcox who was brought in for peer review, expert analysis and consulting.

Wilcox was the primary source of information throughout the presentation, and noted that while other municipalities that had sold their airports could no longer control the fine details including management and revenue, the tri-party ownership of CYEE held tight reins on the intricacies such as selling valuable land space, like individual hangars, for prospects looking for commitment.

The oral report explained the strategic plan for the airport, the review and prioritization of governance and ownership models, economic development recommendations, fiscal considerations, support for the process, and a list of short-to-long range goals to 2040.

Emphasis was placed on the value of emergency transportation such as Medivac, police and military use. When cost was addressed, several instances were mentioned by Wilcox that put the price of human life above the pennies added to municipal taxes.

“The weather information is really important, and today is a great day,” said Wilcox pointing to the inclement snowy conditions of springtime in the regional snowbelt. “The helicopter is not landing at the hospital today; if there’s an accident, it’s landing at the airport.”

Calculated from the strategic development plan by Loomex Group in 2019, at the current municipal contribution subsidy of $140,187 with a shared population of 37,613, the annual per capita subsidy would average $3.72 per person.

“At $3.72 per community member, it’s well below an average across the province, and is a great limited-cost to your community members… in terms of essential service like the Medivacs,” Wilcox added.

Wilcox reiterated the sentence on a slide pointing out that the “social and economic benefit significantly exceeds the social economic costs.”

Economic impact for the region was estimated at $3.3 million per year attributing 30 full time positions of employment.The three municipal council representatives on the task force shared their thoughts: Coun. Cody Oschefski of Midland felt excited for potential synergy with Georgian College, local businesses and other partners; Coun. Gibb Wishart of Tiny had returned to the task force to find the machine running smooth; and Coun. Dan LaRose of Penetanguishene saw no downsides to the process and called it “a big turning point for all involved.”

Tiny Mayor George Cornell, who also the county warden, felt the airport was achieving an evolution, but expressed wanting to learn more of the opportunities, risks and benefits before making a council decision on the task force’s 2022 initiatives.

“One of the things over the years we’ve talked about (is) we’re missing one of the members of North Simcoe,” admitted Cornell of the fourth regional municipality. “I think our challenge has been that we really haven’t had a value offering to take to the Township of Tay. I think that’s starting to come together here.”

Midland Coun. Bill Gordon, calling Tay “the elephant in the room here,” pointed out that if Tay couldn’t be enticed, “will they really get to enjoy the same kinds of benefits that the other three owners get, only they don’t have a penny invested – no skin in the game.”

Gordon remarked that if Tay couldn’t be courted, “then really we’re enjoying our own little echo chamber of how great this is for ourselves if we can’t sell it to anybody else.”

Further information on the joint presentation of the Huronia Airport Task Force final report was made available to Tiny, Midland, and Penetanguishene municipal websites following the meeting.

(Photo: Huronia Airport)

Safran named engine partner for Diamond eDA40 electric airplane

Diamond Aircraft reached a cooperation agreement that will see its all-electric training aircraft, eDA40, integrated with an ENGINeUS electric motor developed by Safran Electrical & Power.

The eDA40 is a derivative of the existing and certified DA40 platform. Diamond Aircraft expects the eDA40 will become the first EASA/FAA Part 23 certified electric airplane with Direct Current (DC) fast charging – capable of turning around a depleted aircraft in under 20 minutes.

Total flight time of the eDA40, which was first unveiled as Diamond development program in October 2021, is expected to be up to 90 minutes as the battery technologies evolve. The eDA40 is expected to reduce operating costs by up to 40 per cent when compared to traditional piston aircraft.

The ENGINeUS product line includes a range of electric motors with power outputs from single digit to 500 kW. The ENGINeUSTM 100, that will equip the eDA40, delivers 130 kW maximum at take-off power and features a fully integrated motor controller within the machine. The thermal management, explains Diamond, is provided by an optimized air-cooling system.

The certification of the electric motor is planned for mid-2023. Basic EASA certification for the eDA40 is expected at the end of 2023 or early 2024. First flights are scheduled for the end of 2022.

(Photo: Safran)

Toronto Pearson breaks ground on Runway 06L/24R rehabilitation

Deborah Flint, CEO of Greater Toronto Airports Authority, on the morning of April 25 welcomed Omar Alghabra, Canada’s Minister of Transport, to Toronto Pearson for a ground-breaking ceremony to mark one of the largest runway rehabilitation projects in the airport’s history. The construction project is being led by Dufferin Construction.

Runway 06L/24R, Pearson’s second-busiest runway, will be temporarily closed to late fall for a complete rehabilitation. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) explains modern innovation and advanced planning will allow Pearson to complete the project in eight months, and with a more sustainable approach.

First built in the 1960s, GTAA explains this three-kilometer runway requires a complete rehabilitation due to the wearing down of its concrete sub-structure because of weather conditions, use and time. This project will extend the life of the runway by 30 years and enhance the safety of the runway. The project will include the use of recycled materials and upgrades to 1,800 LED lights, GTAA notes, which will help enhance safety and reduce its carbon footprint.

GTAA also points to other environmentally progressive construction practices being used such as repurposing crushed concrete from the runway pavement removal for the sub-base and base materials, and recycled milling asphalt materials on approach roads in the vicinity of the runway.

“This rehabilitation is about building essential infrastructure that is required for the economy of the region, the province and the nation,” said Flint. “A strong Pearson will support Canada’s recovery by enabling foreign direct investment, trade, tourism and critical goods movement. Moreover, this work will contribute millions of dollars to the local economy, create meaningful jobs and use sustainable construction practices.”

(Photo: Greater Toronto Airports Authority)

Volatus to distribute UAVTEK drone technology

Volatus Aerospace signed a global marketing and distribution agreement with UAVTEK, a British drone technology designer and manufacturer focused on defence and public safety. This week, the UAVTEK Ares and Bug will be presented at the AUVSI Xponential in Orlando Florida.

“UAVTEK has delivered remarkable UAV technologies to defence over the last few years, with hundreds deployed in the field,” said aid Glen Lynch, CEO of Volatus. “These technologies provide us with an opportunity to fulfill the demand for drone technologies designed and manufactured in NATO countries. The information captured by these drones is 100 per cent protected – no data is recorded in the drone and because it uses military-grade radio it is less susceptible to electronic warfare.”

Steve Emerson, Volatus VP for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, will take the lead on expanding the UAVTEK footprint globally.

The drones produced by UAVTEK are described as highly modular with many payloads available. All technologies share the same controller and the same battery type. The platforms have been field-tested in Lapland in -40C. There is a full range of drones available from fixed-wing to nano.

(Photo: Volatus Aerospace, UAVTEK)

Levaero opens facility at Collingwood Regional Airport

Levaero Aviation on April 25 announced the opening of a new base at Collingwood
Regional Airport, CNY3, featuring a new 18,000-square-foot hangar complex that will serve as an additional site for Levaero’s maintenance and aircraft sales departments.

Headquartered in Thunder Bay, Ont., with a national sales office in Toronto, and now the base in Collingwood, Ont., Levaero is the exclusive Pilatus Aircraft Sales & Service Centre in Canada.

“We are excited to officially welcome Levaero Aviation to CNY3. Our relationship has
grown over the years, and we are delighted to be home to their latest expansion,” said said Geordie Dalglish, President of the Collingwood Regional Airport. “Their presence will support employment in the region, and further expand the draw of our airport.”

Levaero describes the new base as a natural fit for its Ontario expansion, with Collingwood serving as the heart of one of the fastest growing regions in the province. The CNY3 airport is under new ownership and undergoing significant capital investment and expansion.

“Our new facility at the Collingwood Airport is the latest in our expansion plans to
support our growing customer base,” said Stan Kuliavas, Vice President of Sales, Levaero. “As the first major OEM authorized dealer and IADA accredited broker located at the airport, we look forward to serving our existing customers in the region, as well as assisting others with their aviation needs.

“The new facility will provide industry leading support to Pilatus aircraft owners, as well as other turboprop and jet operators in need of a reliable maintenance provider.” Kuliavas added “Our aircraft sales department is also active in the region assisting customers acquiring and selling aircraft, including several based at CNY3.”

(Photo: Levaero Aviation)

Fatal crash involving president of FlightSimple Aircraft

FlightSimple Aircraft Sales posted a notice in memory of Michael Wilton who was identified as the pilot of a fatal crash west of Calgary on Friday, April 22. The airplane, a 1981 Mooney M20K, crashed along Highway 1 near the Springbank Airport, according to a report by the Canadian Press, with a second passenger being taken to hospital in life-threatening condition.

The statement on the company’s website begins, “Michael James Wilton left us far too soon. He was larger than life, with a great sense of fun, a booming laugh and a generous heart.”

Born in Swift Current, Sask., Wilton moved to Winnipeg, Man. for Grade 10 and eventually earned a petroleum engineering degree at SAIT, according to the company’s statement. The company continues to explains Wilton earned a spot on the BP cleanup team in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, before launching his own business, Flight Simple Aircraft Sales.

FlightSimple Aircraft Sales is a full service, North America wide, aircraft brokerage, specializing in piston, turboprop and light Jet aircraft.

A celebration of Wilton’s life is scheduled for June 3 at The Hangar Flight Museum in Calgary.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Region of Queens Municipality sells Greenfield airport

— By Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

The South Shore Regional Airport located in Greenfield has been sold to a private buyer.

The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) was the owner of the property. Council made the sale official at the RQM council meeting April 12 after an in-camera session.

The airport has been sold to Liemke Ventures Limited for a total of $565,000 plus HST.

“I can tell you that when Mr. Liemke tells the community of his plans, they’re going to be very pleased. It will continue to operate as an airport, and there’s a good relationship with the South Shore Flying Club and the Nova Scotia Drag Racing Association,” RQM Mayor Darlene Norman said in an interview with LighthouseNOW.

“This is a great step forward to ensure the continuation and future development of an airstrip for the South Shore, which is what it was built for. The sale ensures that the airstrip will continue and grow and provide many new attributes to the northern part of Queens. It’s a good news story.”

Following an in-camera discussion about the sale, the council resumed the public session of the council meeting to vote on the sale. All councillors supported the sale with the exception of Deputy Mayor Kevin Muise, who commented before the final vote of councillors, “I am not in favour of this sale. I find the price is way too low. I know it is the appraised value, but I find it’s way too low.”

The mayor later commented in an email to LighthouseNOW that the airport was sold for the appraised value, “which, according to the Municipal Government Act, must be realized. Could we have requested more, yes, we could have, but why turn away the opportunity to finally put the airport lands into the hands of a business that wishes to see it grow and prosper. This sale has long-standing benefits which far outweigh the (money).”

She added that it was appraised recently by a third-party business that looked at comparable large land sales in the area and the value of the infrastructure.

The assessed value of the property and amenities was $826,000.

CEO and owner of Liemke Ventures Ltd., Gerd Liemke, said there were a couple of reasons for the purchase.

“Two key aspects convinced our investment. Primarily, the strategic location in between the South Shore together with the Nova Scotia growth rate and secondary, the foreseen demand of an alternative logistic hub for the seafood industry,” he said in an email.

Liemke Ventures Ltd. (LVL) is a private company founded in 2020 and registered in Nova Scotia. It is based in Hubbards and is a member of a German-based holding with its main focus in aviation and related business.

Liemke said the airport will remain a public airport and a long-term strategic growth plan is in place. A part of the plan is to install a JetA1 fuel station to serve turbine aircraft such as law enforcement, firefighters, EMS aircraft and midsize business jets. He also wants to build a hangar to accommodate private planes for visitors and local pilots and “reactivate the airport as a port of entry for U.S. travellers.”

His vision for the airport includes “becoming the first choice airport for aviators visiting the South Shore, become a logistic hub for the local seafood industry, contribute to the region’s economic growth, add value for the community of Queens, share and support the passion of flying and to serve rescue and law enforcement agencies.”

The airport has served the area for more than 50 years. Work began on a landing strip in 1965 with the first routine flights taking place in 1970.

It has been operated by members of the South Shore Flying Club (SSFC) an entity formed in 2015 and in 2016 the club signed a 13-year contract with RQM to manage it. The municipality had stopped supplying a manager for the airport several years earlier, according to Norman.

Peter Gow, president of SSFC, said the club is “pleased that things finally finished up. I am certainly looking forward to seeing what happens from here,” he said. “We’ve been doing what we can to keep it alive, and so far we’ve been able to do that, and now that Mr. Leimke is involved that only means bigger and better things. So we’re looking forward to that.”

The flying club boasts nearly 40 members.

Jack Johnson, the spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Drag Racing Association, said the club has been racing at the airport for the past 18 seasons. He indicated it has worked out a multi-year contract with the new owner.

“We look forward to keeping drag racing on the South Shore for many years to come. I think it’s the beginning of a strong relationship,” he said. The club has five scheduled race weekends this year beginning in May.

(Photo: South Shore Regional Airport)

Textron completes acquisition of Pipistrel

Textron on April 18 announced the completion of its acquisition of Pipistrel d.o.o, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions d.o.o. and Pipistrel Italia S.R.L., known collectively as Pipistrel. Under the terms of the transaction, Textron purchased Pipistrel for a cash price of approximately €218 million ($375 million in Canadian funds).

Pipistrel’s founder and CEO, Ivo Boscarol, will remain a minority shareholder of Pipistrel with an approximately 10 per cent interest for a two-year period. The cash purchase price includes the amount for which his minority interest will be purchased at the end of the two-year period.

Textron notes Pipistrel’s Velis Electro is the world’s first, and currently only, electric aircraft to receive full type-certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Pipistrel, which offers a family of gliders and light aircraft with both electric and combustion engines, has delivered more than 2,500 light aircraft worldwide since its founding in 1989. It also has both hybrid and electric propulsion models under development.

Pipistrel is now part of Textron’s newest business segment, Textron eAviation, which will pursue what Textron describes as a long-term strategy to offer a family of sustainable aircraft for urban air mobility, general aviation, cargo and special mission roles. Rob Scholl, who has been leading Textron’s eAviation initiatives to date, has been named president and CEO of the segment.

“Pipistrel has already achieved what many other companies only aspire to – certifying and delivering highly regarded electric aircraft to customers around the world,” said Scott Donnelly, Chairman and CEO, Textron. “We are excited to accelerate Pipistrel’s development and to welcome its talented people into our organization, where we will pool expertise to make Textron a world leader in sustainable aircraft for a wide range of missions.”

Pipistrel will remain as a distinct aviation brand within Textron, alongside the company’s established Cessna, Beechcraft and Bell brands. Its headquarters, research and development, and manufacturing will remain in Slovenia and Italy, where Textron plans to make additional investments to expand manufacturing and product development capabilities.

“With Pipistrel, we have the opportunity to take an already great aircraft manufacturer and make it greater still,” said Textron eAviation CEO Rob Scholl. “We look forward to working with its remarkable team and helping the business achieve its full potential.”

(Photo : Textron Aviation)

Improving Regional Access through affordable airfares

— By Luc Boily

On April 19, the Quebec government unveiled its regional air transport plan, which will introduce a $500 cap for round-trip plane tickets to various destinations within Quebec. To fund this initiative, Transport Minister François Bonnardel confirmed a $261 million investment over 5 years.

As a first measure, the Quebec government plans to renew existing emergency programs. These programs will be extended until March 31, 2023, in order to aid regional airlines and airport administrators. Subsequently, the government will provide a financial subsidy to eligible air carriers maintain a $500 airfare cap for regional destinations inside Quebec. The program will be in effect starting this summer.

Furthermore, residents of isolated areas who are already eligible for the current Airfare Reduction Program will be able to benefit from a financial adjustment. The maximum reduction amount per person will be abolished in order to remove all travel limitations. Finally, the government will offer financial support to guarantee a minimum frequency of flights to isolated areas. Agreements could be negotiated with specific air carriers in order to offer adequate services to destinations served by a single airline or where services are deemed insufficient.

“Our government believes that regional access is essential for the economic vitality of Quebec’s regions. Regional air travel is a complex issue which previous governments never had the will to address. We felt it was essential to give Quebecers access to affordable flights,” commented Mr. Bonnardel.

“Thanks to the $500 cap on plane tickets introduced by our new program, Quebecers will have unprecedented access to the great diversity of touristic experiences offered right here throughout our province,” added Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx.

During its first year, the plan’s implementation will be supported by a $61M investment. It should be noted that air travel programs already exist for Nunavik’s population, namely the IIaujuq program and the Kativik Regional Administration’s Airfare reduction program. Nunavik residents will also be able to benefit from the regional air transport plan’s reduced airfare when they travel to eligible destinations.

(Image: Répertoire des municipalités : Administration régionale Kativik)