THE ATOL 650 amphibious aircraft will be produced at Brunswick Landing for the North American market.

THE ATOL 650 amphibious aircraft will be produced at Brunswick Landing for the North American market.

BRUNSWICK

A Finnish company announced plans Tuesday to produce a flying boat at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Atol USA, Inc. is a newly created joint venture between Finland’s Atol Avion and a U.S.-based investor group that will produce the Atol 650 LSA amphibious aircraft for the North American market, according to a press release.

The company will be based out of Brunswick Executive Airport on Brunswick Landing and work out of the TechPlace technology incubator while it receives FAA certification, according to Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Steve Levesque.

“We’re pleased another company chose to locate at Brunswick Landing and in Maine to join our growing aerospace cluster,” Levesque said in a brief interview this morning.

Since Brunswick Naval Air Station’s closure nearly six years ago, the MRRA has sought to attract aviation companies to make use of its existing facilities. As a former base of operation for the Navy’s maritime anti-submarine operation, the airport boasts two 8,000- foot runways and 650,000 square feet of hangar space, as well as jet engine test and maintenance facilities and ground support equipment maintenance facilities, according to MRRA’s website.

In its release, Atol USA credited Levesque for being “instrumental in bringing Atol USA to Brunswick Landing.”

“We have world class assets to leverage on this project and have invested heavily to attract operations such as Atol,” Levesque said in a written statement. “For instance, we are currently constructing an environmentally controlled composites layup room, curing oven and paint booth, all designed to aviation standards and sized to accept wings, fuselages and other large structures.”

Levesque continued: “These complement our CNC machining center, welding shops, 3D printers and on-site Composites Engineering Research Lab in TechPlace, a manufacturing technology incubator. We make these assets available to companies throughout the state of Maine. We’ve taken what the Navy left us and elevated it a notch to attract aviation manufacturers.”

Levesque said work had been underway for “a year or more” to bring Atol to Brunswick Landing.

The Atol 650 is a high performance, amphibious aircraft. Its components use materials including carbon-fiber, aluminum, Kevlar and wood-composites.

“The Atol 650 is the class leader of the amphibious LSAs,” said Paul Richards, Atol USA’s president. “The 650 is a serious adventure machine, as comfortable in the back country as on a suburban pond. Its useful load and rugged construction supports a range of mission’s others can only dream of … and it’s a blast to fly.”

According to the Associated Press, the plane is already undergoing European certification and will begin certification with the Federal Aviation Administration within 60 days, Richards said.

Richards is one of the principals of sport aircraft manufacturer MVP.Aero, which manufactures a the MVP amphibious sport plane and has a presence at TechPlace, according to Levesque.

Other aviation companies that have a presence at the former base include:

• advanced private aircraft manufacturer Tempus Jets;

• Maine Coastal Flight, which provides flight training, aircraft rental, scenic flights, aerial photography and aircraft management;

• FlightLevel Aviation, which is the airport’s fixed base operator

• Brunswick Aviation Services

• Grayson Aerospace

The AP reports that Kestrel Aviation was one of the first aircraft makers to commit to Brunswick but moved production to Wisconsin because of tax breaks there. Some parts for jets are made in Brunswick after the company merged with Eclipse Aerospace to create One Aviation.

Atol Avion will begin deliveries for European customers from their Finnish factory later this year and deliveries from the Brunswick Landing operation are scheduled for mid-2018, according to its release.

Richards said his company will employ 50 to 100 people when manufacturing ramps up. It will begin leasing space May 1 for its U.S. headquarters.

The company wouldn’t be competing with established light aircraft manufacturers like Cessna, for example, he said. The Atol 650, he said, will cost less than a Cessna but won’t be rated for commercial use, and it will be limited to two occupants.

There are approximately 1,224 people working on the former base since its 2011 closure, as well as at its Topsham annex. Forecasts several years ago predicted there would be about 450 workers.

Maine’s aviation community is supporting the Atol project, according to Barry Valentine, chairman of the Maine Aviation Business Association and as a former administrator of the FAA understands the challenges in bringing a new aircraft to market, according to the release.

Valentine said, in part: “Maine has a long history with amphibious flight having been the home to Lake Aircraft for decades and we’d like nothing more than to once again see ‘flying boats’ produced in Maine flying all over North America.”

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