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INDUSTRY PROFILE – Evolving the Ordinary into the Extraordinary – Voyageur Aviation Corp.

INDUSTRY PROFILE – Evolving the Ordinary into the Extraordinary – Voyageur Aviation Corp.

BY JOETEY ATTARIWALA

Voyageur Aviation Corp. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chorus Aviation Inc., a company whose vision is to deliver aviation platforms, capabilities and support to diverse operators around the world. Voyageur is a highly diversified company which is headquartered in North Bay, Ontario — it has capabilities which are resident through Voyageur Airways, Voyageur Aerotech, Voyageur Avparts, and Voyageur Leasing — and it operates under the core principles of comprehensive safety management, quality assurance, and client-dedicated solutions. The company’s services date back to 1968 and include airline operations; aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO); aircraft part sales and logistics management; aircraft leasing; and defence services. Never one to rest on its laurels, Voyageur’s parent company constantly seeks opportunities to enhance their business, as exhibited by its recent acquisition of Falko Regional Aircraft Limited. This acquisition transforms Chorus into a premier full-service provider within regional aviation with unique services to maximize value at every stage of an aircraft’s lifecycle. The completion of this transaction establishes Chorus as the world’s largest aircraft lessor focused solely on the regional aircraft leasing space, and results in a portfolio of 348 regional aircraft with an aggregate value of approximately $4.5 billion USD which are owned, managed, and/or operated by Chorus subsidiaries, like Voyageur.

Evolving the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Voyageur Aviation Corp. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chorus Aviation Inc., a company whose vision is to deliver aviation platforms, capabilities and support to diverse operators around the world.

Voyageur is a highly diversified company which is headquartered in North Bay, Ontario — it has capabilities which are resident through Voyageur Airways, Voyageur Aerotech, Voyageur Avparts, and Voyageur Leasing — and it operates under the core principles of comprehensive safety management, quality assurance, and client-dedicated solutions.

The company’s services date back to 1968 and include airline operations; aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO); aircraft part sales and logistics management; aircraft leasing; and defence services.

Never one to rest on its laurels, Voyageur’s parent company constantly seeks opportunities to enhance their business, as exhibited by its recent acquisition of Falko Regional Aircraft Limited. This acquisition transforms Chorus into a premier full-service provider within regional aviation with unique services to maximize value at every stage of an aircraft’s lifecycle. The completion of this transaction establishes Chorus as the world’s largest aircraft lessor focused solely on the regional aircraft leasing space, and results in a portfolio of 348 regional aircraft with an aggregate value of approximately $4.5 billion USD which are owned, managed, and/or operated by Chorus subsidiaries, like Voyageur.

As an approved air operator for over 50 years, Voyageur Airways conducts a host of specialty contract flying throughout the world. Working closely with their own unique services is Voyageur Leasing, which provides aircraft leasing services with a focus on mid-life-or-later regional aircraft such as the classic Dash 8 aircraft.

The capabilities at Voyageur Avparts is focused on providing a wide range of aircraft supply chain services, including the provisioning of aircraft parts, inventory management, inventory consignment services, component repair and overhaul, and aircraft end-of-life management. Recently, Voyageur has developed a component exchange leasing program (EXCL) offering operators further flexibility in component provisioning. These capabilities cannot be understated as it enables Voyageur the ability to effectively support special missions operations in Canada and around the world. In fact, Voyageur has supported the Department of National Defence (DND) over several years and continues to do so with aircraft such as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CT-142.

The capabilities described above provide Voyageur with a suite of integrated services that are optimized for civil, commercial and military clients across the globe. Voyageur has the expertise and capacity to manage, engineer and support complex and critical projects, of which a strong emphasis is on special mission capabilities, for Government, Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGO) and others. This expertise spans over 27 years and has been instrumental in Voyageur’s success in delivering deployed operations in austere locations within Africa and the Middle East for high-profile international programs like the World Food Programme and UN humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. In Canada the company has established itself as subject matter experts in highly specialized Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) programs such as Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP); and the Canadian Armed Forces Manned Airborne Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (MAISR) project through Team CERTAS.

Voyageur’s Defence program leverages the aforementioned capabilities and is focused on providing innovative products and services to the global defence industry. The company’s defence expertise marries perfectly with the trend of Canadian defence acquisition which aligns closely with the U.S. Department of Defense for interoperability, interchangeability, and the ability to transfer data seamlessly, particularly when it comes to key capabilities like C4ISR. These attributes are resident in special missions aircraft and in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) — platforms Voyageur continues to support.

“I think there is a strong role for Canadian industry in the aerospace sector as I see life-cycle similarities between shipbuilding and aviation in Canada,” said Carl Kumpic, Vice-President of Defence and Government Programs at Voyageur. “A ship’s hull won’t change over the life of the platform, but its systems will. The same can be said of special mission aircraft — engineer it with the right form, because the mission equipment inside will undoubtedly change driven by new technology and future mission requirements. It’s this side of the equation where Canadian companies like Voyageur are able to engineer, integrate and keep systems up-to-date and relevant for the end-user. That way you’re stimulating Canadian industry, you’re getting something that’s suited for the challenging operating conditions that we face in Canada, and you’re getting something that’s future supportable in Canada. Our defence program seeks to do that in Canada and around the world.”

According to Kumpic, Voyageur develops long-standing customer relationships while developing cost effective solutions for its customers

SPECIALISTS IN DESIGN ENGINEERING 

Seeing potential in aircraft is a core skill which Voyageur excels at. Voyageur Aerotech Inc. is an Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO) and Design Approval Organization (DAO) that specializes in Design Engineering Services and aircraft MRO. These capabilities enable Voyageur to perform modifications to aircraft to extend their operational life, address regulatory requirements as well as ensure relevant mission capabilities for the future.

The company has the expertise to develop its own Supplemental Type Certificates (STC), and that allows it to conceptualize and design aircraft modifications and repairs that are suited for special missions. The capacity to do so resides principally at its main facility in North Bay, which is growing to support new and existing programs.

Voyageur is now the largest owner of Dash 8 classic aircraft in the world — this type has been a steadfast special mission platform in many roles — which is why the company continues to market the aircraft to third parties for modification, sale or lease.

In 2021, Voyageur was awarded a 3-year contract to upgrade and modify the NASP fleet of three Dash 8-100 and one Dash 7 aircraft with new surveillance equipment, which includes provisions for an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensor, infrared and ultraviolet scanner for pollution monitoring, observation windows, mission crew seats, and other modifications to existing systems. Additionally, one Dash 8-100 aircraft will receive Voyageur’s Long-Range Fuel System installation to enable missions requiring significant range and endurance.

“Through the NASP program, Voyageur has developed a strong relationship with Transport Canada ASD [Aircraft Services Directorate] in providing innovative design solutions for the NASP fleet,” Kumpic told CDR. “The culture at Voyageur is one of developing long-standing customer relationships. We work closely with our clients in developing cost effective solutions that provide enhanced capability and service over many years.”

Voyageur is working with Honeywell to create a replacement flight deck STC with the Primus APEX integrated flight deck system which will modernize the Dash-8 aircraft flight deck with multi-function displays providing 21st Century capabilities including synthetic vision, advanced navigation and radar capabilities. This will address regulatory issues while also providing future supportability, reliability and availability for the platform.

MAISR

CDR readers are aware that Canada is acquiring a new manned airborne intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (MAISR) capability which will enable the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) the capacity to identify potential threats to Canadian security and sovereignty, including in the Arctic. These aircraft will be configured with military-grade advanced sensors and secure communications equipment, which will improve situational awareness on the ground to support the operations of the CAF both at home and abroad.

The MAISR project is being delivered through two separate but interrelated procurements. The first step involved the acquisition of aircraft, and the acquisition and integration of prime mission equipment and training. Through the United States Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, the Government of Canada acquired 3 Beechcraft King Air 350ER aircraft for MAISR. In August 2020, the U.S. Government awarded a contract to L3Harris to begin the integration of the prime mission systems of the aircraft.

In May 2021, following an open and competitive process, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of the DND, awarded an initial 8-year in-service support and maintenance contract to Team CERTAS, consisting of General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada, and Voyageur Aviation Corp.

“The in-service support that we will provide to the MAISR fleet will leverage all the things we do with our own fleet of aircraft, which means providing technical capabilities to ensure that that fleet remains relevant over its years,” said Kumpic. “Our years of experience in supporting deployed operations globally in challenging regions also provides the MAISR program with confidence of effective in-service support outside of Canada.”

“Our capabilities with in-service support have been honed through decades of experience of supporting our own fleet of aircraft. Voyageur has provided full life-cycle support in regards to maintenance, reliability improvements, modifications & upgrades, obsolescence management, mobile repair services to remote regions of the world, logistics as well as parts sales and management, including aircraft part out,” Kumpic told CDR. “As an operator and maintainer, we also have the unique ability to identify key components and systems that require special attention to ensure aircraft availability and mission success. This is our key value proposition – providing effective and comprehensive aircraft in-service support.”

The three MAISR aircraft are expected to be fully integrated and delivered to Canada in the near future, and Voyageur will provide support to the aircraft with on-site teams based in Trenton, Ontario.

The MAISR support contract will create or maintain up to 40 well‑paying aerospace sector jobs. Upon satisfactory performance, the contract could be extended for many years.

Team V-BAT was developed to offer a compliant solution for RCN ISTAR

TEAM V-BAT FOR ISTAR 

With its focus on defence programs, Voyageur has partnered with key players to compete for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) tactical unmanned aircraft system (UAS) project; which is in draft-Request for Proposal (RFP) status. According to DND, the Navy requires an alternate airborne platform that can be operated from Halifax class frigates to provide near-real time, over-the-horizon ISTAR information that will enhance situational awareness.

Team V-BAT was developed to offer a compliant solution for RCN ISTAR as it is already fielded with U.S. services, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard. As part of Team V-BAT, Voyageur Aviation will provide full airworthiness and maintenance services, life-cycle management as well as training services; while Kongsberg Geospatial will provide the Command and Control ground station and mission system interfaces; and Shield AI will provide the V-BAT platform.

“One of the key requirements for these UAS systems is that they must be able to be disassembled and stored in very small areas within the ship, and they must be able to launch and recover from the ship without having to move the maritime helicopter in and out of its hangar. The V-BAT platform meets these requirements in a safe and efficient manner. Voyageur’s value-add includes providing the program management, logistics, technical support as well as training on how to operate and maintain the UAS platform,” said Kumpic. “This is an exciting and new domain for Canada as well as for Voyageur in particular. The application of UAS systems for ISR missions has been growing globally and will continue to expand given the demand for increased surveillance and mission data. We believe that Team V-BAT will provide the Royal Canadian Navy with a very useful tactical tool to support future missions and operations.”

In 2020, the U.S. Government awarded a contract to L3Harris to begin the integration of the prime mission systems of the MAISR aircraft

PARTNERSHIPS

Voyageur’s international experience of configuring, modifying and operating aircraft in special missions is benefiting Canadian industry. The company is seeking opportunities to take aircraft they own, or customer aircraft, and reconfigure them for ISR, VIP, cargo, air ambulance, aerial firefighting and other applications — and in doing so, Voyageur evolves the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Voyageur continues to pursue opportunities in defence and – given its decades of experience with deployed operations in austere locations and its engineering and MRO capabilities – it sees potential in Canada’s Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) project, and the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA) project. Given its expertise in ISR, the company sees synergistic opportunities with the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) project. These efforts and others will be reflected at Voyageur’s presence at the upcoming CANSEC trade show in Ottawa.

“We see the strength that strategic partnerships bring to providing a holistic solution to our customers,” Kumpic told CDR. “We are striving to develop long-term and strategic relationships with our customers and with partners. Through our parent organization, Chorus Aviation, we can bring many facets of operational and commercial services, leasing, pilot training and fleet management to Canada and others around the globe.”

Joetey Attariwala is CDR’s Aviation Editor

 

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