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Avmax converts Dash 8 from Alberta government fleet

From Skies Magazine NEWS | Monday August 8th 2016 | Avmax converts Dash 8 from Alberta government fleet | By Ben Forrest

This was the first of 10 aircraft Avmax expects to convert for FlyViking over the next two to three years, all of them Dash 8s.

When the Alberta government put a 1985 de Havilland Dash 8 up for sale nearly two years ago, the offering naturally attracted Calgary-based Avmax, a diverse aviation support company that has completed Dash 8 conversions for operators around the world.

This was the last of four aircraft in the former government fleet, sold after prolonged controversy over their use by sitting politicians, including former premiers Ralph Klein and Alison Redford.

Avmax acquired the Dash 8 in January 2016 and set about converting it for commercial use by FlyViking, a Norwegian airline.

This type of conversion was nothing new for Avmax, but its tight deadline stretched the company in new ways. With only 16 weeks to finish the work, nearly every division in the organization rallied behind it.

“I think the challenge certainly came from a very aggressive timeline, and the fact that we were doing a fairly large-scale project,” said Al Young, Avmax vice-president of global operations.

“But for Avmax in general, this is what we do. We’re a heavy maintenance facility. We do these kinds of projects as a normal course of business.”

Alberta put its four government planes up for sale in 2014, following a promise by then-premier Jim Prentice.

The move was heralded as part of a new era for the Progressive Conservative Party after an auditor general’s report revealed the planes were used for partisan events and other controversial purposes.

Alberta’s three government Beechcraft King Air planes reportedly sold to Fargo Jet Center Inc. of Fargo, N.D. for $6.1 million in 2015. Avmax reportedly acquired the Dash 8 for $5.026 million.

The plane was completely overhauled, with several modifications carried out by Avmax’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and avionics division in Calgary.

Avmax’s engineering division created and certified most of the modifications and the plane flew to the Avmax facility in Montana to be painted before returning to Calgary for final touches.

FlyViking employees were expected to arrive the week of July 18, 2016, for final approval.

A partial list of modifications includes converting the plane from 37 to 39 seats; installing an LED lighting system; installing ADS-B Out; and installing an under-floor duct heating system.

“The scope of the project was fairly large for us, but certainly it was well within our capability and well within our wheelhouse,” said Young.

This was the first of 10 aircraft Avmax expects to convert for FlyViking over the next two to three years, all of them Dash 8s.

“It’s their intention to basically have the same configuration on all the aircraft that are coming out,” said Young.

“So this was a little bit of a learning curve for us as well as them in terms of what exactly they wanted and how they wanted the configuration and all of those things. But now that all of that work is done, we’re just going to be replicating the product.”

Avmax has been doing this kind of work for the last 20 years, working with airlines like Air Georgian, Ravn Alaska, Canadian North and SkyWest.

Still, due to the tight time constraints the Fly Viking project was a learning experience that will help the company as it seeks more of this work in the future.

“I think one of the big lessons is that we learned we’re stronger and more able to help our customers when we pull everybody together and streamline our processes,” said Young.

“This came in as a fairly large program, touched all of our divisions, basically all at once. And obviously as a company we all worked together to complete this program successfully in the short timeline provided.”

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