A 2016 agreement struck with AvJet continues to pay off for JD Aero, after the aircraft maintenance company was named the exclusive fuel provider for all Canadian military aircraft coming into the Sault Ste. Marie Airport.
JD Aero became a fixed base operator (FBO) two years ago after inking an agreement to become the Sault Ste. Marie agent for AvJet, a Québec-based aviation fuel distributor.
Since then, JD Aero has been providing fuelling services to its regular clients and non-regularly scheduled flights, such business jets or charter planes, when they land at the airport. The military contract (milcon) announced in early July steps up their service to the next level.
“(AvJet) negotiated with the Canadian military to get the milcon contract at the Sault airport,” said Don McNabb, JD Aero’s co-founder and the managing director of operations and development.
“So, now any of the military aircraft coming into the Sault, AvJet is the chosen fuel provider for the next two years.”
Included under the milcon contract are RCMP, Canadian Coast Guard, and all federal government aircraft, McNabb added.
Prior to becoming an FBO, JD Aero focused primarily on the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft, specializing in the Bombardier Dash 8 and CRJ product lines and serving clients such as Horizon Air, WestJet Encore, and Porter Airlines.
Offering “nose-to-tail services,” the company does engineering work, services parts, conducts regular maintenance checks, modifies avionics, paints aircraft, and more.
But, always growing and looking to diversify, JD Aero set its sights on expanding its services.
Now, with an FBO facility on site, operators flying into the Sault have another choice for where they want to disembark and get fuel, and there are amenities on site for operators looking to conduct business close to the airport.
Last year, the company completed its third addition since its launch in 2007, adding 10,000 square feet onto its existing hangar space.
After relocating its stores area, planning rooms and client offices, space was freed up to create a larger FBO lounge area where clients have access to offices and a conference room.
“If somebody wanted to fly in for business, for example, and didn't have a lot of time, rather than go all the way into the Sault, they could arrange to land at our facility, their customer or business partners in the Sault could come out, they could use the offices or the conference room here, do their business here, and then they could disembark from here again,” McNabb said.
The agreement with AvJet has created enough additional work for JD Aero to bring on four new staff members, and the hiring isn’t done.
In January, JD Aero will introduce a fourth line of full maintenance work to their operations, adding to the three they have now.
The company has already hired 10 people to meet demand, and McNabb said they’ll need to hire 10 more to be fully staffed.
That will bring their numbers to 140 full- and part-time employees.
And this fall, JD Aero is hoping to provide expanded de-icing services for the airport, which would require a few more workers.
“It's been pretty hectic the last couple of years,” McNabb said.
“Now that we've got the hangar in place and the fuel and everything, and we’re bringing on a few more people, we're just trying to stabilize that for a little while and see where things go from there.”