Atol USA Inc. is a joint venture between Atol Avion and an American investor group and was formed to handle the production, delivery and support of the Atol 650 for the North American market.
The founders of the Finnish parent company, Atol Avion, have a passion for amphibious sport flying, which the company described in its release as a "natural affinity from a country with nearly 200,000 lakes." The Atol 650 Light Sport Aircraft has been under development for over five years at the company's development and production facilities in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Barry Valentine, chairman of the Maine Aviation Business Association and a former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, said in a release that the Finnish company's decision to locate at Brunswick Landing offered strong potential to add jobs to MRRA's ongoing redevelopment effort, which has attracted 100 new companies and created 1,250 jobs since the Navy base closed in May 2011.
"Our organization is all about helping Maine's aviation industry succeed and we think this project has all the elements required for success. A great product, good team and a world class location," he said. "Maine has a long history with amphibious flight having been the home to Lake Aircraft for decades and we'd like nothing more than to once again see 'flying boats' produced in Maine flying all over North America."
Brunswick Landing has been selected as the headquarters for a joint venture between the Finnish aircraft company Atol Avion and a U.S.-based investor group that plans to build and distribute an amphibious light sport aircraft in the North American market.
"They'll be starting off in TechPlace," Steve Levesque, executive director of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, told Mainebiz in a phone interview today from Lakeland, Fla., where he was attending an aviation trade show at which the news will be announced.
Levesque said Atol USA eventually will move into Hangar 4 at Brunswick Landing, which is undergoing renovations to accommodate the company's plans.
The Atol 650 is a high-performance, amphibious aircraft designed to meet light sport aircraft rules and features what Atol described in a news release as an "industry-leading, 600-pound useful load."
Atol Avion will begin deliveries for European customers from their Finnish factory late this year and deliveries from the Brunswick Landing operation are scheduled for mid 2018, the company stated in its news release.
Anssi Rekula, Atol Avion co-founder and sales director, said in a news release the decision to locate at Brunswick Landing was driven by the company's sense that North America had great market potential for its amphibious aircraft.
"Although the 650 is mission capable it's also perfect for the sheer pleasure of flight….cruising at 100 knots is the perfect speed to see the world slip by," he said. "North America is the biggest aviation market with huge demand for seaplanes and we think Atol USA Inc. is the best and fastest solution for us to be able to serve our North American customers."
The aircraft features flying surfaces using Oratex fabrics and other light-but-strong-and-durable materials that include carbon fiber, aluminum, Kevlar and wood composites.
Paul Richards, Atol USA's president, calls it "a serious adventure machine … and it's a blast to fly."
Richards told the Associated Press that the plane is undergoing European certification and will begin certification with the Federal Aviation Administration within 60 days. He said Atol USA will employ 50 to 100 people when manufacturing ramps up at Brunswick Landing and it plans to begin leasing space for its U.S. headquarters on May 1.
Levesque, who is a pilot himself, acknowledged that he played a role in bringing Atol USA to Brunswick Landing. It's also why he's attending the Sun 'N Fun International Fly-In Expo this week at Lakeland's Aerospace Center for Excellence.
"We're doing what we're supposed to be doing," he said. "We're down here at this event marketing the property. That's what we've been doing all along."
Atol will join other aviation companies that already have located at Brunswick Landing, such as One Aviation, Tempus Jets, Flight Level Aviation, MVP Aero, Brunswick Aviation Services and Maine Coastal Flight. The Brunswick Executive Airport features two 8,000 foot runways, 700,000 square feet of hangar space and maintenance facilities, over 103 acres of taxiways and aircraft parking apron space, an advanced glycol recovery de-icing system, jet engine test and maintenance facilities and a new instrument landing system.
"We have world class assets to leverage on this project and have invested heavily to attract operations such as Atol," Levesque said, noting that MRRA is currently constructing an environmentally controlled composites layup room, curing oven and paint booth, all designed to aviation standards and sized to accept wings, fuselages and other large structures.
"These complement our computer numerical control machining center, welding shops, 3D printers and on-site Composites Engineering Research Lab in TechPlace, our manufacturing technology incubator," he added. "We make these assets available to companies throughout the state. We've taken what the Navy left us and elevated it a notch to attract aviation manufacturers."
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