Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame announces inductees for 50th anniversary event

Harvey Friesen, former CEO of Bearskin Airlines, passed away in 2014. (Photo: Wings, ATAC)

Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame announced the nomination of four individuals and an operational command of the Royal Canadian Air Force for its 2023 induction class.

The 2023 induction will include Harvey Friesen, former owner of Bearskin Airlines; Dr. Gary Gray, who had been involved with the medical progress of the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Space Agency for more than 50 years; Keith Hopkinson of Hopkinson Aircraft Sales; and Second World War pilot Ken Lett.

The 1 Canadian Air Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force has been named as the 2023 recipient of The Belt of Orion Award for Excellence.

The induction ceremony, which will mark Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame’s (CAHF) 50th anniversary, will be held on September 14, 2023, at Sunwest Aviation in Calgary. Over its five decades of operation, CAHF has honoured the accomplishments of 248 individuals and 26 organizations representing the best of Canadian aviation and aerospace.

CAHF also announced Colonel Chris Hadfield as its keynote speaker for the 50th anniversary event. Hadfield, a highly decorated astronaut, engineer, fighter pilot, musician, and author, was inducted as a Member into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005.

Hartzell expands engine range for Voyager props on Cessna Skywagon

Hartzell Propeller has expanded the use of its three-blade aluminum Voyager prop, which, explains the company, is popular with bush pilots. The Voyager was previously approved for other Cessna 180/182/185/206 aircraft powered by the Continental 520 and 550 engines.

The Voyager is now STC approved for Cessna 180 aircraft, powered by Continental 470-A (S/N 41000 and higher) -J, -R, and -S engines. This includes models 180 and models C – J with standard engines.

“Inspired by customer acceptance since we introduced the Voyager in 2019, we are continuing our efforts to make it available to a much broader fleet,” said JJ Frigge, President, Hartzell Propeller.

Hartzell explains the custom-designed Voyager propeller provides premium performance offering the same or better cruise speeds, increased take-off acceleration, and an exceptional climb rate. It features swept scimitar aluminum blades, continues the company, designed for optimal performance, specifically for these airplanes.

Hartzell is offering the 86-inch diameter Voyager propeller for US$16,561, including polished spinner and all STC documentation. The Voyager propeller has a 2,400-hour, six-year TBO.

(Photo: Hartzell Propeller)

Nielsen receives 2022 DCAM Award for flight instruction

Dale Nielsen was awarded the 2022 David Charles Abramson Memorial Flight Instructor Safety Award at the recent Air Transport Association of Canada conference in Vancouver, BC.

Nielsen provides his expertise with the fixed wing division of Chinook Helicopters, based in Abbotsford, BC. He was presented with the David Charles Abramson Memorial (DCAM) award by Adam Wright.

Organizers of DCAM note Nielsen has contributed and given back to the Canadian aviation industry over a career that has spanned more than 50 years and 19,000-plus flight hours. This includes time with the Royal Canadian Air Force, commercial operations, as a person responsible for maintenance, charter flying for medevac with 703, 704 and 705 operators, in addition to flight instruction.

He wrote flight safety columns for many years for COPA Flight magazine and produced a complete line of training manuals, while also serving as a mentor to new generations of pilots.

Sponsors and supporters of the 2022 DCAM Award include: Air Transport Association of Canada, Essential Turbines, FlightSafety Canada, Hamilton Watches/Swatch Group Canada, Helicopters magazine, Seneca College, Wings Magazine, Lost Aviator Coffee, Canadian Forces Snowbirds, COPA, and Aviation Solutions.

Nominations for the 2023 DCAN Award can be made at any time at the program’s website.

(Photo: Adam Wright, DCAM)

Forestry expands use of drones

— By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal

Resolute Forest Products has expanded its use of drone technology to include mapping and aerial seeding in its Ontario woodlands operations.

They are just scratching the surface of what the forestry industry can do with drones as each new project application generates more ideas on how to use the technology, said Seth Kursman, vice-president of corporate communications, sustainability and government affairs with Resolute Forest Products.

“This is a demonstration that the forest industry is certainly taking advantage of new equipment and technologies that are available to improve stewardship and the ongoing sustainability of the resources that we rely upon,” he said.

“It also is another way of being able to be that much more focused in our work, and in doing so, reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions, which of course, is a key element of Resolute’s overall sustainability strategy.”

The forestry industry has been using drones for years to provide quick aerial inspections or be flown further afield to determine accessibility to areas with no road access.

The developing technology has resulted in the latest drone versions, which are bigger, faster, and more sophisticated than any of the other 12 drones Resolute is using in Ontario.

Kursman said the latest Wingtra One, fixed-wing drone added to the Resolute fleet is a heavy-duty multicopter that flies like a helicopter and will be used for seeding. It was purchased from the Thunder Bay-based Four Rivers Group, which is the first Indigenous Wingtra dealer.

“Aerial seeding is critically important for us to assure 100 per cent regeneration of the forest that is harvested,” he said.

“We go into certain areas and plant millions of saplings each year, but aerial seeding also plays a very important role in the regeneration process.”

He added that the drone can immediately begin aerial seeding after an area has been harvested, enabling the seeds to germinate along with other species.

The drone, which flies like a plane but can take off and land vertically, is equipped with a high-resolution camera that provides a detailed picture of the area, which is necessary before seeding can begin, Kursman said.

The Wingtra One can fly in a series of parallel tracks that are then merged together to form a detailed photograph.

Kursman says the work is traditionally done with the use of aircraft and helicopters, which are costly and leave a larger carbon footprint. The drones help reduce carbon emissions and because this initiative brings technology into the forest products industry, Resolute was eligible for partial funding for the drone purchases through the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy.

“Certainly, these new technologies that we’re incorporating into our work can also benefit from dollars that are targeted to encourage that kind of innovation,” he said.

(Photo: Wingtra)

Town and Woodstock Flying Association finalize MOU

The Woodstock Flying Association and town sign MOU to operate the Woodstock airport. (Photo: Jim Dumville)

— By Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun

After a significant wait, council finally approved the Woodstock Airport MOU between the town and the Woodstock Flying Association.

Mayor Art Slipp welcomed council’s approval at the Nov. 8 council meeting, explaining the delays in finalizing the document did not involve a significant issue. Still, both sides wanted to clarify all details.

“We’ve been going back and forth with Matt McLatchy (Woodstock Flying Association president),” the mayor said.

McLatchy will serve as the flying association’s liaison with the town. Woodstock council will also appoint a liaison.

One of the final details included hangar fee rates collected by the town. Slipp said the town will collect 20 cents per square foot in 2022, with the fee increasing to 30 cents in 2023.

The town will review the hangar fees annually and use the funds for improvements as laid out in the development plan.

Under the agreement, the town will maintain the airport grounds as needed, including the runway, ramp area, parking lot and field areas.

The flying association will maintain and operate the clubhouse, ensuring it is available to the flying public.

The town will work with the flying association board to create development plans, including one for the airport.

The town will maintain liability insurance and pay taxes.

The Woodstock Flying Association’s responsibilities include hosting flying-related events and ensuring they comply with regulations.

The association must also ensure it follows town regulations and respond to public inquiries about the airport via email or social media.

The flying association, through its liaison, must provide accurate data to the Nav Canada publication and issue NOTAMS (alerts to pilots of potential hazards) as needed.


Aircraft dealer seeks to expand work

— By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal

In its 25-year evolution, Levaero Aviation has seen business growth and ownership changes, pandemic challenges, and worker and supply shortages.

Steve Davey, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, says through it all, Levaero strives to maintain and improve the quality of their services.

“We’ve just done a significant expansion on our maintenance department with a new facility here in Thunder Bay as well as another facility in southern Ontario,” Davey said. “Now that we have the bricks and mortar, it’s time to bring the work in and also increase our workforce and attract more work from outside of Canada and North America.”

Like many other businesses, Levaero Aviation is feeling the ramifications left by the COVID-19 pandemic, and labour and supply shortages.

He says this is making Levaero become “a little more creative” by finding skilled employees from other industries, bringing them in and training them to their industry standard.

Davey is a member of the Confederation College Aircraft Maintenance advisory committee and says Levaero works closely with the college.

“We hire a number of graduates every year from Confederation College as well as first-year students who we bring in to work for us part time,” he said. “Even at the high school level, we’re working closely with the Lakehead Public School Board to get the Grade 10 students introduced to aviation and aircraft maintenance, so when they get into Grade 11 and start choosing co-op placement, hopefully, we find a group that is interested and they come our way.”

He added that “quite a few” of their employees have come through the high school aviation co-op programs.

It all began in 1997 when a new Swiss-made aircraft called Pilatus came onto the world market. Frank Kelner, an entrepreneur, knew the aircraft was just right for Canadian airspace. Relocating to Thunder Bay, he established the V. Kelner Pilatus Centre and employed Robert Arnone and Steve Davey.

In 2006, Kelner handed the reins over to Arnone and Davey, and by 2011 the purchase arrangement of the company was completed.

After several name changes, the company was rebranded as Levaero Aviation in 2015 and continues to provide Pilatus aircraft for customers from independent companies to the Ontario Provincial Police. Today the aircraft is claimed to be the most in-demand turboprop in its class worldwide and is sourced in Thunder Bay.

“There was a product available and a country that was right for this world product,” said Robert Arnone, president, CEO and co-owner of Levaero Aviation with Steve Davey and shareholders Stan Kuliavas and Shaun Appell.

“It was a good fit into Canada which did not have a dealership at the time. We sought out that opportunity and hence, here we are today celebrating a milestone of 25 years of business in Thunder Bay.”

Arnone says every year has had something spectacular about it.

“It was the evolution of the product (that stands out). Year in and year out the product changed and the different models were introduced and added to the constant improvement of the product,” he said, adding that the aircraft is manufactured in Switzerland.

Levaero Aviation sells, leases, repairs and maintains the Pilatus turboprop and PC 24 twin-engine jets for their aircraft owners across Canada. Many of the staff have been with the company for more than 20 years.

“And that’s our people,” Arnone said. “We have some of the best aircraft maintenance engineers in the world, and with the experience that we have with the product, we have really become an international destination for heavy aircraft maintenance.”

He noted how important it is that Thunder Bay is recognized for the ability to host such a company that he called “world class.”

Stan Kuliavas, a shareholder and vice-president of sales, says more people have come into the private aviation sector than ever before in the history of the industry and demand remains strong.

“Part of the challenge is that supply is also at the lowest it’s ever been in the history of our industry and it affects everything,” he said. “More than 60 per cent of the metal that is used in aircraft engine manufacturing used to come from Russia. With Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, manufacturers not doing business with a “terror state” and they’ve had to resource those materials, which hasn’t come without challenges.”

Levaero Aviation celebrated the quarter-century milestone with employees and customers who joined them from across the country earlier this month.

“Our people are the best part of this business,” Kuliavas said. “Without our employees that are so integral, we don’t have customers . . . and without customers, we have no business.”

(Photo: Pilatus Aircraft)

A unique drone technology from Quebec

DroneXperts’ new AirDX-SM drone. (Photo : DroneExperts)

By Luc Boily

On November 24, 2022, the newspaper La Presse published an article on the AirDX-SM drone from the DroneXperts firm of Quebec, highlighting that it has developed a technology allowing the simultaneous use of three sampling methods aimed at determining the quality of the air.

According to the company, this is a world first. Aimed at large industries that want to measure emissions from their facilities, including pulp and paper mills, sanitary landfills and oil companies, the AirDX-SM drone is “able to go and sample in places where a human cannot,” said Patrick Chatelle, Environment and Research Director at DroneXperts, to La Presse. Weighing 4.5 kg and having a range of 15 minutes, this drone could geolocate and detect in real time up to seven different gases, including greenhouse gases (GHGs).

According to the article, the design of the AirDX-SM mobilized around 15 experts from 2015, notably from the Centre for Industrial Research of Quebec (CRIQ) and the Centre of Expertise in Environmental Analysis of Quebec (CEAEQ ). Since March 2022, the team has focused on obtaining certifications and demonstrating regulatory compliance for the AirDX-SM.

DroneXperts estimates that the first AirDX-SM units should be delivered in January 2023. They will be entirely manufactured in by DroneXperts in Quebec, which has around 30 employees. Initially, the company is targeting the North American and European markets, but no door is closed.