Kelowna company KF Aerospace has been awarded two Canadian Armed Forces maintenance contracts totaling more than $30 million.
The contracts, awarded through what the federal government described as an open, competitive process, will help support Canada’s aerospace industry and maintain approximately 40 jobs at KF Aerospace, formerly known as Kelowna Flightcraft.
“This is great news for KF Aerospace, for the people of Kelowna and for the Canadian economy,” said Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr, who brought federal Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu to town to make the announcement Friday.
While the two contacts are new, they continue KF Aerospace’s role as maintainers of six RCAF Buffalo search and rescue planes based out of Comox on Vancouver Island and four RCAF Twin Otter planes based out of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. The company had the previous contracts to maintain the planes for nine years, said company president Barry Lapointe.
Lapointe said he was pleased to secure the contracts again, adding he felt it sent a good single to the marketplace that the federal government looks to the West, as well as to Ontario and Quebec, when it comes to awarding aerospace contracts. He said sometimes, albeit it incorrectly, some in Western Canada feel that is not the case.
But Col. Martin Breton, director of air equipment, program management and transport for the Air Force said the contracts were not awarded based on geography.
“We tried to get best price,” he said, adding in that regard KF Aerospace delivered.
The first contract, valued at $21.8 million (including taxes), will help maintain the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-115 Buffalo search and rescue aircraft for a period of three years and includes the option to extend the contract for an additional year.
The planes are considered a vital component of Canada’s search and rescue capabilities on the West Coast, and must be maintained until replacement aircraft are in place and fully operational.
The second contract, valued at $9.6 million (including taxes), will help maintain the RCAF’s CC-138 Twin Otter aircraft for four years, including the possibility of four additional one-year extensions.
Those planes are used in transport roles for the Canadian Armed Forces’ Northern operations and occasionally in search and rescue missions.
The government says that contract with KF Aerospace will help maintain the planes until at least 2025, so the Canadian Armed Forces can continue delivering operations in the Northern territories.
Lapointe, whose company is the biggest private employer in the Central Okanagan with about 800 employees. said he is looking to increase that number to around 1,000 employees in the future.
The 47-year-old company, which LaPointe started here with his then partner Jim Rogers, has had success maintaining and repairing aircraft, as well as providing aerospace services and training, for companies and nations around the world since 1970.
- Both contracts include additional options to extend the contract periods, if needed.
- The CC-115 Buffalos play a critical role in supporting the Canadian Armed Forces’ search and rescue activities, from the British Columbia–Washington border to the Arctic, and from the Rocky Mountains to 1,200 kilometres out over the Pacific Ocean. These aircraft protect Canadians’ lives every day.
- One of Canada’s primary search and rescue aircraft, the agile CC-115 Buffalo will fly in almost any weather, and can take off and land on even the most rugged and difficult to access airstrips.
- The CC-138 Twin Otter is a highly adaptable utility transport aircraft that can be outfitted with wheels or skis to land on virtually any surface, making it well suited for Canada’s ever-changing northern climate and terrain.
- A fleet of new fixed-wing search and rescue sensor-equipped aircraft will start being delivered in 2019 to replace the CC-115 Buffalos and CC-130H Hercules.