DeHavilland Canada says it will build its own towered airport and manufacturing complex worth hundreds of millions of dollars east of Calgary, Alberta, over the next 15 years and is considering building at least three of its iconic designs at the new facility. The huge complex will cover 1,500 acres and include aircraft assembly, parts manufacturing, 3D printing, maintenance and repair, research and educational facilities. Future expansion may include commercial development. It will be known as De Havilland Field.
For almost 100 years, De Havilland (which for 30 years was part of Bombardier) was based in Toronto. As part of its divestiture of all its business units except business jets, Bombardier sold its Toronto complex, which included an airport, for residential and commercial development. Canadian-owned Longview Capital, which manufactures Twin Otters, bought the Q400 regional airliner and CL-415 amphibious firefighting aircraft businesses. The deal came with the knowledge that it would have to move within five years as part of the Toronto real estate sale.
The company has already decided to build an updated version of the water bomber, the DHC-515, and is now studying whether to continue building Twin Otters and resuming production of the Q400, which was paused in 2021. CEO Brian Chafe seems bullish on their chances. “I can guarantee you that our goal and the mandate was given to me to get back into production for all three of those platforms and maybe some derivatives of some other ones,” Chafe told the Calgary Herald. “All of them are driven by customers coming to us”
The company is receiving no tax or development incentives from provincial or federal governments. The only break it will get is a 40 percent property tax reduction for three years from tiny Wheatland County, its new home. That’s a standard incentive provided to all new businesses in the rural jurisdiction. “This is huge, not just for Wheatland County but definitely for the province of Alberta,” Wheatland County Reeve (the equivalent of a mayor) Amber Link told the Herald. “I’m sitting here smiling ear to ear … it’s just so gratifying to see them choose our county.”