More Money For Bombardier
More taxpayer money seems guaranteed for troubled Bombardier with the announcement by the Quebec government that it will step up again if the federal government doesn’t.
The feds announced this week that they are days away from a decision on whether to prop up the company to ensure it has the money to cover current production demands. But federal support is dependent on wresting control of the company from the Bombardier family, who hold more than 50 percent of the voting shares in the publicly traded company through a dual class share structure.
Many financial analysts have pointed to the family control, and its habit of appointing senior management from within that tight unit, as a key factor in the company’s current problems.
The Quebec government apparently has no such management concerns. If the feds don’t pony up, Quebec’s new Transport Minister Jacques Daoust has virtually assured Quebec will step in.
“If, as of March 31, the federal government isn’t present, the Government of Quebec will have a decision to make,” he said in the legislature. “But we’ve always supported Bombardier. It’s a jewel of our economy and we will continue [that support].”
That jewel has been tarnished of late on Wall Street as its share price has dropped to penny stock status. It was trading around 77 cents this week.
Blackshape Gets Transport Canada Nod
Blackshape Aircraft says its BS100 Prime is now certified in Canada.
The Special-Limited certification allows the aircraft to be flown in day and night VFR with a maximum takeoff weight of 620 kg. According to Transport Canada’s Web site, the certification is granted those who “import and operate in Canada non-type certified and ex-military aircraft, subject to Transport Canada evaluation of the aircraft and maintenance and operating conditions attached to the flight authority.”
The Blackshape is an Italian design that has been available in Europe for several years. The Canadian version has a 100-horsepower Rotax 912S and will cruise at 150 knots.
It has retractable gear, variable pitch prop, glass cockpit, autopilot and a ballistic whole aircraft parachute.
The aircraft is in widespread use in Europe and the Middle East. It will retail for about $269,000 at last report.
Chinook Pilots Graduate
The first class of Canadian-trained CF-17 Chinook crew members has graduated from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron’s brand new training facility at Garrison Petawawa.
The six pilots, two flight engineers and two loadmasters were recognized at a ceremony at the base last Monday.
Previously, crew members were trained by Boeing pilots and had to travel to do simulator and other types of training at facilities run by the U.S. Army and other military operators of the big twin rotor aircraft.
This class was completely trained at the $130 million facility at Petawawa. In addition to classrooms, ops centre and other facilities, the training centre boasts four simulators.
“This is a really big deal,” said Lt. Col. Chris McKenna in front of a large crowd of well wishers at the ceremony.
The flight training takes five months and includes simulator and stick time in all facets of operational flying.
The RCAF has 15 new Chinooks and they were purchased in 2013 and 2014.
Northwest Territories Buys Fire Bosses
The government of the Northwest Territories is replacing its ancient fleet of CL-215 water bombers with eight new Air Tractor 802 Fire Bosses worth $26 million.
The CL-215s have been flying for more than 50 years (the federal government gave them to NWT in 1969) and are powered by radial piston engines. The government considered upgrading the iconic flying boats but the math didn’t work.
“I think the cost of doing that, from everything I’ve seen, would have been four times or five times the cost of purchasing these new Fire Bosses,” Wally Schumann, the minister of environment and natural resources told the CBC.
The Fire Boss is based on Air Tractor’s popular turboprop ag platform and features amphibious floats that can pick up 800 gallons of water from just about any body of water near the fire. The much larger and more complex CL-215 only carries 300 gallons more.
With all the lakes and rivers in the territory and the long distances between long paved runways, the scoop and drop model works best in the North.
In addition to saving money on the upgrades to the CL-215s, the government will save on operations because the Fire Bosses are single-pilot aircraft. They also burn much more readily available jet fuel instead of the 100LL used by the old radials.
The aircraft will be delivered in time for the 2017 fire season.