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Kelowna Flightcraft soars

Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd. is a staple in the Okanagan community and a large employer in the area.

They were recently dealt a blow when Purolator Courier and Canadian Post announced they were not renewing their contract with them.

This week the company announced an exciting partnership with a global company who will now, with Kelowna Flightcraft, try to win the bid for a Government of Canada Search and Rescue contract.

“Team Spartan, comprised of Alenia Aermacchi, General Dynamics Canada, and DRS Technologies announced that Kelowna Flightcraft would be their heavy maintenance provider and potentially some supply chain management and engineering to support the C-27J Spartan aircraft for the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue bid the Government of Canada is releasing,” said an excited Bryan Akerstream of Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd.

With heavy maintenance facilities and support shops in Kelowna, and Hamilton, ON, Kelowna Flightcraft provides full-service aircraft maintenance, including overhaul and modification, for its own fleet of aircraft as well as customers such as the RCAF, Canadian airline operators like WestJet and Canadian North, and commercial air carriers from around the world. 

Working with Team Spartan’s ISS integrator, General Dynamics Canada, Kelowna Flightcraft will provide long term maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) as well as engineering and supply chain support services for the C-27J FWSAR fleet across Canada.

This announcement means that Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd is part of a team that will bid for that work which would see the replacement of the current Hercules and Buffalo search and rescue aircraft with, hopefully for Kelowna Flightcraft, the C-27J Spartan.

According to the company the C-27J is the plane Canada’s search and rescue teams deserve. They say its rapid response time, speed, size, power, endurance, and maneuverability means it can reach the most remote and austere mountainous, northern, and maritime locations at a high speed and stay at the search area for extended periods of time.

“We competed against some other Canadian maintenance providers for a position on Alenia's team and we were successful in at least winning that position and we are pretty happy about that because most industry experts believe that the Alenia aircraft is best suited for the recruitments that Canada has put out there for this role. We believe it is a leading contender and we are extremely happy to be on that team,” explained Akerstream.

“Kelowna Flightcraft is an invaluable addition to our already strong Canadian FWSAR team,” said Ben Stone, president and chief executive officer of Alenia Aermacchi’s North American business unit.

“This is a company that understands the dedication required to maintain search and rescue assets. Kelowna Flightcraft has a history of supporting RCAF aircraft and is committed to providing the high level of service required by a critical capability like SAR.We look forward to announcing more Canadian partnerships as we get closer to the release of Canada’s FWSAR Request for Proposal.”

There were fears after the loss of the Canada Post contract that there would be layoffs but Akerstream says that is not the case. He says their contract with Canada Post does not end until April 2015 and that will give them ample time to find alternative work for their employees and their aircrafts.

“So although we lost the follow contract, we are still doing that work and we have just about a year to find other opportunities to replace that work we are currently doing for Canada Post.”

The new contract with Alenia will bring a new revenue source and double that type of work for Kelowna Flightcraft, something Akerstream hopes will lead to a hiring surge.

“As far as employment goes, right now we do the Buffalo aircraft heavy maintenance and this would probably be double that. So we would be looking at twice the work then we are currently seeing with the contract that we have. It will create more labour, certainty more than we have today.”

Unfortunately the work with Canada Post and this new contract are not directly relatable so workers can not move from one project to the other, but for Akerstream and his team he says this is more than just employment numbers but rather getting their name out there on a bigger scale.

“Being on a team with Alenia, a global company, really gets our name out there to places where it wouldn't currently be, particularly in Europe. So it does help us with name recognition when we go banging on doors to try and market out aircraft in other opportunities, it certainly helps if they know who you are.”

The next step is to work with their new global partners to try to win the government contract.

“We are pretty excited about it, so hopefully we win the contract now and bring some more work to Kelowna,” said Akerstream.

“The request for proposal will be released in the next month or so and then we will have nine months to work as a team to deliver a bid to the government, so we could be receiving a nice Christmas present if we win a contract with Team Spartan.”

Team Spartan’s FWSAR solution will support hundreds of long-term, high-tech jobs across the country as well as investments in infrastructure and technology, making it an outstanding economic stimulus for Canada’s aerospace sector. Team Spartan will enable enhanced capability growth in Canada, delivering high-quality and low-risk services.

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