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Dornier Seaplane to announce decision on assembly plant

Feb. 4, 2010, Montreal - U.S. aircraft manufacturer Dornier Seaplane Company
will announce its decision as early as next week on whether to set up an assembly plant for its new composite amphibious airplane in Ontario or Quebec.


February 4, 2010
By The Canadian Press

An unidentified official with the Florida-based company said it was preparing for a news conference, likely next week.

But CEO Joe Walker later said in an email that the announcement will be coming "in the next few weeks.''

The company narrowed the list of possible locations to North Bay, Ont., or St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., east of Montreal, last year after eliminating Trois-Rivieres, Que., Florida and Alabama from contention.

Although Walker was in Montreal on Wednesday, the head of the North Bay's economic development department said it doesn't necessarily mean the decision favours St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

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"I can't contribute anything,'' said North Bay manager Rick Evans, adding that he knows the decision, but wasn't willing to steal Dornier's thunder.

He said Dornier has had an office in Montreal for more than a year.

"They've been bouncing back and forth between Montreal, Toronto and here.''

Industry and government officials in Quebec said they were not aware of the company's decision.

Dornier had planned to announce its decision by mid-January. It wasn't immediately clear why it has been delayed. The company expects to create at least 250 jobs over five years for its Seastar aircraft.

The finalists were selected based on the availability of skilled labour, low real estate and infrastructure costs, availability of local suppliers and proximity to nearby lakes for flight testing.

Conrado Dornier, the company's chairman and grandson of founder Claude Dornier, has said he was pleased to build on the family's 100-year aircraft legacy in Canada.

In addition to selecting a final assembly site, the company has been in detailed discussions with major suppliers. They will be chosen over the coming year with deliveries expected to begin in 24 months.

Last year, Dornier said it had received inquiries from more than 132 countries and was working to develop firm orders from more than 25 letters of intent for the US$6-million aircraft.

The 10-seat luxury Seastar will be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines manufactured in Longueuil, Que., and in Lethbridge, Alta.

Despite Montreal's strong aerospace sector, North Bay graduates potential employees from Canadore College's aviation school.

Dornier claims the Seastar will be the world's first all-composite seaplane.

Since its founding in the early 1900s, Dornier has manufactured more than 10,000 aircraft, including some 1,000 seaplanes.

The company's founder began working with Count Zeppelin and went on to found the original Dornier Metallbauten.