De Havilland Canada to build airline manufacturing plant

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd on Wednesday announced plans to build a new aircraft manufacturing plant east of Calgary that could eventually employ up to 1,500 people.

The company said the facility, dubbed De Havilland Field, will be located in Wheatland County between the communities of Chestermere and Strathmore. De Havilland said it has acquired about 600 hectares of land in the area.

She said construction could begin as early as next year, with its first buildings operational by 2025 – although full construction of the project could take years.

“This is a huge day for our company and for our customers past, present and future who depend on us to keep our planes flying,” CEO Brian Chaffee said at a press conference in Calgary.

“De Havilland Field will be a complete aerospace campus, starting with aircraft manufacturing, assembly, delivery, research and development, educational facilities, and distribution.”

The plant will be the final assembly site for the DHC-515 firefighter aircraft, the DHC Twin Otter aircraft and the Dash 8-400 aircraft.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney described it as “a remarkable day for the Alberta economy, for the diversification of this province, for manufacturing and most importantly for the aviation sector.”

He said aviation will be a key part of Alberta’s future.

“Today, that dream is coming true at Technicolor with De Havilland Field, a ground-breaking, world-leading air campus that over the coming years could employ up to 1,500 Albertans in high-paying jobs.”

It was a “huge win” for the province, said Tanya Fair, the province’s minister for jobs, economy and innovation.

“We wanted to find ways to leverage Alberta’s strengths, such as our available land near logistical hubs and a young, skilled and motivated workforce, to find a way back to our position as Canada’s economic engine,” she said in a statement.

“De Havilland’s investment in Alberta, to help transition its aircraft into its second century of operations, proves that our plan is paying off.”

Amber Link, Rive of Wetland County, said she couldn’t be more excited to have De Havilland make her permanent home in the rural area.

“Today is pivotal,” she said. “The decision to build De Havilland Field in Wheatland is revolutionary in diversifying our economy. The jobs that are being created are significant and will benefit from the strong, long-standing work ethic that built Wheatland County.

“The same work ethic that built Wetland County and Alberta will now build legendary aircraft.”

Sherry Bridson, co-owner of the company, said the full project will take a long time to complete and will depend on the business’ growth trajectory.

“De Havilland Field, like Rome – I must warn you – will not be built in a day,” she said. “We anticipate that full construction will take between 10 and 15 years. We plan to take it slowly and seriously… and we will make sure it succeeds.”

Rob MacDonald, co-owner of the company, said de Havilland does not need government subsidies and aims to be self-sufficient.

“We need people to buy our planes. We don’t really need or want government support.”

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