Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Welcome to the Start in Sturgeon Blog. Check here often for great articles about the County's Economic Development and other relevant issues.


Soaring through economic turbulence Leanne

My four year old son Sam, has an unusual fascination with aircraft and counts them as they are flying by. I know that Sam would’ve loved to join me on a visit to a helicopter maintenance company at Villeneuve Airport but he would’ve been quite interruptive with requests for a ride, so Sam had to wait for an appropriate opportunity to see a helicopter up-close.

Avialta Helicopter Maintenance introduced me to a whole new industry that I didn’t know much about. When I think of helicopters, the obvious activities come to mind - site seeing, heli-skiing, firefighting and search and rescue operations. But I wasn’t aware of some of the specialized uses for them. Helicopter are involved in new and expansion projects within several business industries across Western Canada such as mining exploration, logging, equipment moves, aerial construction and power line construction. These are lucrative markets that companies like Avialta have targeted since they came into existence 26 years ago.

Avialta Helicopter Maintenance is a Transport Canada approved helicopter repair and overhaul maintenance shop, performing routine and major maintenance and aircraft customizations including, interior, paint, avionics, optional equipment installations and maintenance level composite repairs.The company also leases a fleet of over 30 aircraft to various industries across Canada for specialized applications such as those I previously mentioned.

The helicopter industry around Avialta

The helicopter industry has historically been built on providing access to remote areas and is sustained by clients that work in the field. In Alberta, helicopters plays an essential role in the natural resource based economy and so the slowdown in exploration and delays on major capital projects caused by low energy prices has increased competition within the helicopter industry to a significant level. While lower profit margins are squeezing some operators out of the business, Avialta has developed well-honed survival skills to navigate their businesses through seasonal and cyclical upsets. Even though some aircraft owners and airlines perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services in-house, many more prefer outsourcing them because they have chosen to focus their attention on core business operations, as opposed to MRO. This area of opportunity has expanded over the years and contributed to Avialta’s success.


The helicopter industry around Avialta

The helicopter industry has historically been built on providing access to remote areas and is sustained by clients that work in the field. In Alberta, helicopters plays an essential role in the natural resource based economy and so the slowdown in exploration and delays on major capital projects caused by low energy prices has increased competition within the helicopter industry to a significant level. While lower profit margins are squeezing some operators out of the business, Avialta has developed well-honed survival skills to navigate their businesses through seasonal and cyclical upsets. Even though some aircraft owners and airlines perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services in-house, many more prefer outsourcing them because they have chosen to focus their attention on core business operations, as opposed to MRO. This area of opportunity has expanded over the years and contributed to Avialta’s success.

Avialta Helicopter Maintenance was purchased by Rod Wood in 1985 when it was a small two-person operation located at the tiny St. Albert airfield just north of Edmonton at ProNorth Industrial Park. While he may not have ever anticipated challenging the giants of aviation maintenance, Rod had a desire to grow his small firm quickly but steadily.

Today, the company consists of 18 employees that range from aircraft maintenance engineers, office staff and support workers at their maintenance facility within Villeneuve Airport. This facility is 19,000 sq. ft. comprising a hangar space, paint shop, part sales area, and component shop with an adjoining office structure.

Although current economic conditions continue to challenge the survival skills of many helicopter companies, Avialta is well-diversified and specialized enough to weather the slowdown across the energy industry. With the province kicking off its forest fire season earlier than it traditionally has, Avialta could have a busy helicopter leasing season ahead. I’d like to thank Paul Horvartis and Avialta for giving me a tour of their facility – Avialta is definitely an important contributor to the economy of Sturgeon County and they certainly make us all #SturgeonProud!

Contact Avialta Helicopter Maintenance at 780.460.1800 or check out their website at www.avialta.com





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