Voyageur Aviation Corp. showed off its latest refurbishing project at its North Bay hangar on April 20. A former Air Canada Jazz airliner has been transformed into a unique package freighter.
“It is a conversion from a Dash 8-100 passenger aircraft into what we call a package freighter,” explained Scott Tapson, president of Voyageur Aviation Corp.
“So our engineering group at Voyageur has developed the conversion for the aircraft to take out the passenger seats and basically fit it with what we call a Class E cargo compartment.”
“It really creates a new life for this aircraft as a freighter, and we believe this aircraft is going to fit very well in the category of freighters, as it will be able to carry between three and five metric tons,” he added.
“We are able to get a 10,000-pound payload out of this aircraft, which is quite significant — highest payload of any aircraft in its class.”
The refurbished Dash 8-100 is one of two package freighters that Thunder Bay’s Wasaya Airways has purchased.
Michael Rodyniuk is the president and CEO of Wasaya. He said they will utilize the two refurbished Dash 8-100s for moving various goods such as food, fuel and even building supplies up to remote Northern communities that are next to impossible to reach by road.
“It came in very affordable and it comes in as a market dominant machine that will give us a competitive advantage in the marketplace moving goods in and out of the North,” Rodyniuk said about communities they service, such as Sandy Lake and Fort Severyn in Northern Ontario.
Rodyniuk said the new service will allow them to bring in fresh produce, which is tough to deliver with the planes in their current fleet.
“This aircraft will allow us to get in and out of the communities and deliver good product and frequency, increasing the level of health and decreasing the cost to get those food stuffs,” he said.
While the Wasaya project is unique, Tapson hopes other customers will see the value of this refurbished jet for the small package courier market.
“E-commerce is huge today,” said Tapson.
“So you have these firms who are shipping via air, and large networks crisscrossing the country, but you need smaller aircraft to get to some of the smaller destinations, so a package freighter, we think, will be a great airplane to serve that courier market as well into regional networks,” he said.
While work continues on the second Dash 8-100 in the current hangar, Tapson said more renovations are taking place in the former Bombardier hangar next door.
“We had seen a lot of growth in our Aerotech business, so what an opportunity for us to increase the footprint, the capacity of our hangars,” Tapson said. “By renovating the hangar and the one next door, we are doubling the footprint that Voyageur Aerotech has with respect to our maintenance, repair and overhaul business.”