Pat Bay Helicopter hangar construction on schedule

443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron's new hangar construction

The new hangar for 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron is progressing on schedule and should be ready to house squadron personnel and equipment next year.

Beyond the window of Maj Donald Leblanc’s office chaos has developed.

The 443 Maritime Squadron Air Reserve Flight Commander has a clear view of the new facility as it slowly grows from an empty clearing to a completed building.

He can hear it to. 

“It’s very busy all the time, and quite loud,” he says. “It used to be you’d hear aircraft take off once in a while, but now it’s constant work and noise.”

Despite the cacophony of construction, Maj Leblanc says squadron members are excited to move into a modern facility next year.

“We can see the hangar get closer to completion every day. It’s a big project and big step for 443 Squadron,” he says.

Within the one building – 20,000 square metres and three stories high – will be offices, workshops and three hangars bays to house nine Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, the eventual replacement of their six Sea Kings.

It’s also being constructed to “Post-Disaster Standards” to withstand a major disaster such as an earthquake.

“We’ve got the walls of the building anchored right into the bedrock under the site,” says John Knappett, President of Knappett Construction. “If anything happens this building isn’t going anywhere. It’s completely solid.”

At any time there are about 200 people involved in the hangar’s construction. Knappett Construction, the general contracting firm, is responsible for much of the concrete work and civil engineering, while dozens of speciality contractors such as electricians, plumbers, roofers, and steel workers are subcontracted for the trades work.

Knappett and his company have done work for the Canadian Forces before and feel it’s important to keep a healthy relationship with what is one of Knappett’s most important customers.

“The work involved is similar to projects we’ve done in the past, but scaled way up,” says Knappett. “We’ve never built anything this big on the Island before.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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