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45 ° 42′ North: FS companies bring their magic

On the western edge of Ottawa, Carp Airport (ICAO identifier CYRP) owes its origins to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

November 24, 2009  By Peter Pigott

On the western edge of Ottawa, Carp Airport (ICAO identifier CYRP) owes its origins to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Postwar, it wilted in the shadow of its glamorous cousins – Uplands is the capital’s commercial aviation hub, Rockliffe Airport has the Canada Aviation Museum and Gatineau Airport houses the superb Vintage Wings collection. The City of Ottawa inherited Carp Airport in the amalgamation but did not know quite what to do with it. The airport’s potential as an airpark and residential fly-in community was recognized by Western Capital Development, which tore down old buildings and put in sewage and water facilities. But Carp’s Cinderella transformation took place on Oct. 15, 2009, when, as part of the Flight Test Centre of Excellence (FTCE), the Aerospace Flight Test Training Centre (AFTTC) was opened – the magic wand was waved by flight simulation companies Gladstone Aerospace and Marivent Corp. 

Marivent’s Piaggio Avanti flight simulator at Ottawa’s Carp Airport.  

Said Ian G. McIntyre, vice-president of Gladstone Aerospace: “We’ve both been trying to get the capability for flight test evaluation training in Canada – as everybody has to go offshore to do that right now. We knew the market for test pilots was not being satisfied.” A year ago, the Aeronautical Test Establishment at Cold Lake put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to offer two short courses, an introduction to fixed-wing flight testing and evaluation, and an avionics flight test and evaluation.
“We have a relationship with the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) in the U.K. – as does John Maris, president of Marivent,” continued McIntyre. “Well, as soon as we saw the RFP, we realized that this was the opportunity to collaborate with them – to bring their courses over here. Marivent has the Flight Test Centre of Excellence, which has the capability for doing testing and evaluation, and we wanted to get into applied research on testing and evaluation. So with Marivent, Canadian Marconi, the National Research Council and Carleton University, we set about to bring the ETPS content here and meet the requirements for the RFP. We won both contracts and begin delivering the two-week courses on Oct. 19 and Nov. 2.”

John Maris and Keith Gladstone (the president of Gladstone Aerospace) were both test pilots, with Gladstone graduating from the prestigious ETPS. Here is a facility almost as old as aviation itself. In 1915, concerned at the high number of fatalities caused by new, untested aircraft, the British Ministry of Defence set up an experimental flight at the Central Flying School, Upavon. From it evolved the present Empire Test Pilots’ School now at Boscombe Down, considered today to be the Oxford University of test pilot schools. The ETPS motto is “Learn to Test – Test to Learn.” That Ottawa is getting a flight test training facility with its stamp is considerable.


When asked why Carp Airport was chosen, McIntyre explained, “Carp has had a resurgence. Besides Western Capital Development, Nav Canada has a nav aid facility out there and there’s also a helicopter company. What we want to do is formalize the airport’s regeneration. We were looking at the bigger picture – not just two courses but that this was going to be a new capability for Canada. The FTCE’s three pillars are an aerospace flight test centre, a flight test and evaluation centre and applied research. How do you leverage that? We looked at Uplands – too full. We looked at Gatineau Airport – a well-run airport. But we started thinking of the bigger picture. On the west side of Ottawa are a number of aerospace companies – like Lockheed-Martin and Thales – and Carp Airport is only 12 minutes away from where most are located. We thought that at Carp we could create an aerospace ‘cluster’ in the west end of Ottawa. As to bringing jobs into the local area, as we begin to grow, there’s a good 40 to 50 jobs from ourselves alone – to say nothing of other aerospace companies attracted to the cluster.”


At present the FTCE uses the classroom and hangar built by Western Capital Development, intending to construct its own with the objective of creating a “one stop shopping facility.” The two aircraft presently used are Marivent’s Piaggio Avanti and the Cheyenne but the hope is to eventually run the courses with helicopters. While the FTCE’s present customers are the Canadian military, McIntyre predicted that the larger market was going to be foreign military. For Carp Airport, one can only say: Carpe diem.

Peter Pigott is a Wings writer and columnist.


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