The Dornier Seaplane Company announced in a wellattended opening ceremony that it will assemble its Twin PT-6 powered Seastar amphibian aircraft in St-Jean-sur- Richelieu.
Dornier expects its project will create 500 jobs over the next five years. The Quebec government is supporting this $71.5 M project.
In order to house its facility Dornier will build a plant of approximately 80,000 square feet on vacant land on the airport. The presence of the plant is being viewed as a big boon by COPA Flight 160, situated on St. Jean airport, in that it will virtually guarantee the continued viability of the airport.
Flight 160 members have worked diligently with the city to convince officials of the economic value represented by the city’s ownership of the airport.
Dornier will have the advantage of having three runways as well as Lake Champlain to carry out its flight tests and training.
As part of the opening announcement test pilots did a few fly-bys in the airplane which has a 180 knot cruising speed on its two 600-horsepower turbines.
The airplane has a somewhat ‘retro’ look in that it traces its ancestry back to the 1920 Dornier designs, one of which, the WAL, had a total of 12 engines mounted on its wing, in six nacelles each carrying two engines.
The new design also has sponsons in place of tip floats which are common to other flying boats. The current owner of Dornier, Conrado Dornier, is a descendant of the original designer of that line of flying boats.
Literature put out by Dornier describes the airplane as ‘rustproof’ in that it is constructed with pre-preg fibreglass.
It seats 12 in a comfortable cabin, has a maximum no-payload range of 700 miles, a gross weight of 10,251 pounds, and a fuel capacity of 418 U.S. gallons. Its wingspan is almost 60 feet.
The aircraft is not yet certified in Canada but is certified in Europe and the U.S. The company says it already has 25 orders to fill.