By IAN ROSS
A Dunnville aircraft maintenance company has set up a training facility near the Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport.
TNC Aircraft Rebuilding Inc. is providing employee training for Found Aircraft on a need-be basis and is looking to draw other aviation-related clients to the area.
Co-founded by Ted Alexander and another business partner in 1980, the 12-employee company designs, modifies and repairs aircraft structure and conducts some research and development.
This is their first facility outside of Dunnville.
"When Found Aircraft was in need of training we jumped to it and it has worked out quite well," says Alexander, who has an extensive background in aviation maintenance and repair.
So far the centre has trained six employees as fitters for Found Aircraft since last June. Although the aircraft builder has temporarily laid off 24 employees due to stagnant economic conditions in the aviation industry, Alexander says two of their trainees are being retained.
The facility is located in a former snowmobile dealership building on Highway 69 and Tucker Road, and includes a training area and smaller accommodations for instructors.
Finding lodgings for instructors last summer was a chore during the height of the tourist season and it prompted Alexander to spend $60,000 in renovations to the building.
"One of the immediate problems was location," says Alexander. "I had to do the training right on the Found production site. It was very difficult."
Alexander says the airport's location just off Highway 69 on the outskirts of town works in its favour and he envisions an avionics industry springing up around Found Aircraft.
"It's a quiet area and to set business up in other airports where there is a lot of activity is very expensive," says Alexander. "What I foresee in the area is an aeronautical centre for the aircraft industry."
The arrival of a new company catering to Found Aircraft could be the start of what airport administrators hope will lead to many spinoffs.
"It's like a magnet," says Joe LaPlante, airport commission chairman, who has fielded some inquiries from other businesses keen on relocating to the airport.
Airport administrators are proceeding with an expansion plan that will include a new 2,600-foot east-west grass runway and 15 hangar lots for recreational flyers.
Airport, Seguin Township and Town of Parry Sound officials are in discussions with federal and provincial government agencies to look at funding for the $12-million project.
"Our master plan was done last year, now we're doing detailed engineering for the lots themselves and servicing," says LaPlante.
Seegmiller Construction, the builders of the Highway 69 bypass at Parry Sound, cleared and filled in about 70 acres of airport land next to Found Aircraft to store their equipment. The property will eventually be slated for future hangar lots and other airport business development.