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In a partnership billed as a “made in Canada” solution to the looming shortage of aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs), KF Aerospace and Mohawk College announced plans on Feb. 15 for the creation of a new aerospace training hub at Hamilton International Airport.
The new training centre is one part of a larger KF Aerospace expansion that will add a total of 150,000 square feet and more than 275 jobs to the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company’s Hamilton footprint.
A new 75,000-square-foot wide-body hangar will be constructed that will allow KF Aerospace to expand its capabilities and take on new business. Currently, the company’s Hamilton location–established in 1985–provides heavy and line maintenance to Sunwing Airlines and WestJet, among others.
Construction on the new hangar is starting next week and the building is scheduled for completion in October 2019. It is expected to triple the company’s business at Hamilton airport, which was named the country’s fastest-growing airport last year.
In addition, the expansion project includes the construction of a new 70,000-square-foot narrow-body hangar to house Mohawk’s fleet of maintenance aircraft, shops and classrooms. For the first time, the college’s aviation department will be located under one roof, enabling the school to grow its programs to provide hands-on training for 300 to 600 students in aircraft maintenance, structures and avionics. Classes in the new facility are expected to begin in August 2020.
A school handout indicates that drone inspection technology, composite materials and additive parts manufacturing are all future areas of focus at the new training hub.
The two new hangars will bookend the current KF Aerospace hangar at 9500 Airport Road in Mount Hope, Ont.
KF Aerospace founder and CEO, Barry Lapointe, was on hand to describe the vision for the project.
“I’m excited about the new hangar and that we will build a facility here for Mohawk College to expand and grow,” he said.
“Nothing is more important to the future of aviation than the people who work in it. Without Mohawk training young people, we won’t be here. As we get older, people move on, and the young people are going to make this community and they’re going to make this trade, because employees are quickly dwindling now.”
Ron McKerlie, president of Mohawk College, said the project is an opportunity to give students the best possible education.
“This is as real as it gets; to have our aviation students right here at the airport,” he commented. “The new state-of-the-art facilities will give students in the aviation structures, maintenance and avionics programs the kind of experiences that few other colleges will be able to match. When the first classes start here in 2020, students will have access to nearly 70,000 square feet of modern learning space that includes a purpose-built hangar, classrooms, labs, specialized shops and even food services.”
The new hangars will be designed, manufactured and constructed in Canada. KF Aerospace has contracted Ledcor Construction and NA Engineering, and hangar pre-fabrication is being completed in Brandon, Man.