Championing Local Business: Viking Air

Feb 21, 2019 | Blog, Economy | 1 comment

Last fall we began to tour the incredible businesses on the Saanich Peninsula. The tour continued at Viking Air Limited.

Viking is an exciting company that continues to grow at the Victoria International Airport. After a walk through of their production facility and an overview of the operations with Dominique Spragg, VP of Strategic Planning and Karin MacMillan, Western Policy Consultants we sat down with David Curtis, President and CEO to discuss the company’s exciting future.

Viking currently employs 400 people on the Saanich Peninsula and 100 people in Calgary. The company is planning for steady growth in the coming months and years. They are carving out a substantial space in the Canadian aerospace industry.

A subsidiary of Longview Aviation Capital, an investment firm owned by a prominent Canadian family, Viking was incorporated in 1970 and they manufacture parts and provide comprehensive support for Canadian aero-icons: Chipmunk, Beaver, Turbo Beaver, Otter, Twin Otter, Caribou, Buffalo and Dash 7.

Viking currently manufactures the Series 400 Twin Otter in Victoria and assembles the airplane in Calgary. The twin-engine turboprop carries 19 passengers and has been sold to 30 countries worldwide. The versatile and reliable aircraft is used for a variety of purposes.

The company made the news in October 2016 when they purchased the Canadair Amphibious Aircraft Program from Bombardier. This purchase gave Viking the manufacturing rights for the CL-215, CL-215T & CL415 aerial firefighting aircraft and they are responsible for supporting the 170 Canadair water bombers operating around the world.

In 2018 Bridger Aerospace Group purchased three updated CL-415EAF “Enhanced Aerial Firefighters” through Longview, for which Viking will provide the turbine conversion kits. The $90 million program created 50 new jobs in North Saanich and 150 in Calgary.

Behind the numbers

It’s abundantly clear that Viking is proud to be a Canadian company. Their executives celebrate their role in maintaining a piece of aviation history at the same time as investing in its future.

Lining the walls of their offices are the original pencil drawings of the Twin Otter. Stacks of technical manuals fill dozens of filing cabinets exposing the obvious – manufacturing airplanes is complex, and accounting for each rivet is critical.

Viking’s shop floor is meticulous. It is a serious operation that offers serious opportunity for local residents and the regional economy.

Viking’s planes are known for being safe and reliable and Viking is investing with the long view in mind. Their leadership is modest and confident, but they also have an edge, and they are not afraid to lead.

In November 2018, they began the process of acquiring the Dash 8 from Bombardier. With hundreds in service, the Dash 8 is one of the most popular air crafts for regional commercial airlines.

Big business on the Peninsula

The Saanich Peninsula is home to some of the most exciting companies in the region. We quietly go about our business pushing to the edges of innovation and creating high quality, well-paying jobs.

For the past decade we have heard consistently from the industrial sector that if they are going to continue to grow and provide economic prosperity to our region they need the provincial and local governments to find solutions to a work-force housing shortage and better transportation.

I heard this at Epicure, Nicholson and now again at Viking. The message is the same, and it is clear.

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1 Comment

  1. Schubart Dan

    I just finished watching a documentary on TV5 (French Language World Wide Television) about Hydravions (seaplanes and flying boats). Lots of footage of early efforts, the Boeing Clippers and the Latécoères of the ’30s, a nasty smidge on the Martin Mars, and a shortish yet outsized bit on Harbour Air and Viking Air, mirroring all the positive strokes that you have given them here. They do not toil in obscurity.


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