BY JAMES MCCARTHY
Brunswick Landing has been selected as the headquarters for a joint venture between the Finnish aircraft company Atol Avion and a U.S.-based investor group that plans to build and distribute an amphibious light sport aircraft in the North American market.
“They’ll be starting off in TechPlace,” Steve Levesque, executive director of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, told Mainebiz in a phone interview today from Lakeland, Fla., where he was attending an aviation trade show at which the news will be announced.
Levesque said Atol USA eventually will move into Hangar 4 at Brunswick Landing, which is undergoing renovations to accommodate the company’s plans.
The Atol 650 is a high-performance, amphibious aircraft designed to meet light sport aircraft rules and features what Atol described in a news release as an “industry-leading, 600-pound useful load.”
Atol Avion will begin deliveries for European customers from their Finnish factory late this year and deliveries from the Brunswick Landing operation are scheduled for mid 2018, the company stated in its news release.
Anssi Rekula, Atol Avion co-founder and sales director, said in a news release the decision to locate at Brunswick Landing was driven by the company’s sense that North America had great market potential for its amphibious aircraft.
“Although the 650 is mission capable it’s also perfect for the sheer pleasure of flight….cruising at 100 knots is the perfect speed to see the world slip by,” he said. “North America is the biggest aviation market with huge demand for seaplanes and we think Atol USA Inc. is the best and fastest solution for us to be able to serve our North American customers.”
The aircraft features flying surfaces using Oratex fabrics and other light-but-strong-and-durable materials that include carbon fiber, aluminum, Kevlar and wood composites.
Paul Richards, Atol USA’s president, calls it “a serious adventure machine … and it’s a blast to fly.”
Levesque, who is a pilot himself, acknowledged that he played a role in bringing Atol USA to Brunswick Landing. It’s also why he’s attending the Sun ‘N Fun International Fly-In Expo this week at Lakeland’s Aerospace Center for Excellence.
“We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “We’re down here at this event marketing the property. That’s what we’ve been doing all along.”
Brunswick Landing’s growing aviation hub
Atol will join other aviation companies that already have located at Brunswick Landing, such as One Aviation, Tempus Jets, Flight Level Aviation, MVP Aero, Brunswick Aviation Services and Maine Coastal Flight. The Brunswick Executive Airport features two 8,000 foot runways, 700,000 square feet of hangar space and maintenance facilities, over 103 acres of taxiways and aircraft parking apron space, an advanced glycol recovery de-icing system, jet engine test and maintenance facilities and a new instrument landing system.
“We have world class assets to leverage on this project and have invested heavily to attract operations such as Atol,” Levesque said, noting that MRRA is 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.
“These complement our computer numerical control machining center, welding shops, 3D printers and on-site Composites Engineering Research Lab in TechPlace, our manufacturing technology incubator,” he added. “We make these assets available to companies throughout the state. We’ve taken what the Navy left us and elevated it a notch to attract aviation manufacturers.”