Porter Airlines planning $65 million expansion at Ottawa airport

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Porter Airlines, and the Ottawa International Airport Authority (OIAA) are investing over $65 million on an expansion project.

About 150 construction jobs will be supported during the building process.

Porter is in the process of building two aircraft hangars at the site, adding approximately 150,000 sq. ft., and OIAA is constructing a new taxiway and related infrastructure to support the hangar development.

The hangars are being built in two phases: phase one is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023, and phase two by the first quarter of 2024. Hangars were designed by Scott Associates Architects, with PCL Construction acting as construction manager, together with Span Construction & Engineering.

YOW will become a primary maintenance base for the E195-E2, and the airline says it will hire 200 local people, including 160 aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs).

“Ottawa has been a critical location for Porter throughout our history and the multi-million dollar facilities we’re building to maintain aircraft here is only the latest example of our desire to meaningfully invest in Canada’s Capital Region,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO, Porter Airlines. “We anticipate our presence in Ottawa will grow in the coming years, supported by the maintenance base and future aircraft deliveries that give us the ability to consider new routes.”

The airline has up to 100 E195-E2s on order, including 50 firm commitments and 50 purchase rights. The current Dash 8-400 fleet includes 29 aircraft.

OIAA is currently constructing Taxiway Romeo in the airport’s north field area. The $15 million taxiway represents the first airside expansion project in the AAIO’s 20-year history. It will accommodate Porter’s hangar development plans, as well as federal government needs, and possibly other commercial aviation-related development.

The expansion will provide:

  • Indoor parking for up to eight aircraft
  • Structures shop for repairs and modifications of metal and composite aircraft parts
  • Component repair shop to repair and overhaul cabin equipment
  • Wheel shop to repair and overhaul main and nose wheels
  • Battery shop to repair and overhaul aircraft main and emergency batteries

“YOW was Porter’s first destination when they launched in 2006. We believe it’s very fitting that YOW is an important part of their expansion plans and their future, and look forward to the benefits that come with such an extensive maintenance operation,” said Mark Laroche, OIAA president and CEO.

“We are particularly pleased that sustainability factors so prominently in Porter’s plans, which fits perfectly with YOW’s ambitious commitment to net-zero operations (Scope 1 and 2 GHGs) by 2040 or sooner.”

Hangars are designed and will be built with sustainability in mind, including the following features:

  • A predominantly electric fleet of vehicles that will be used for towing and servicing aircraft, as well as ground support.
  • Design criteria that exceeds current energy efficiency standards, including for insulation, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and electrical power systems.
  • The hangars are clad in Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs).
  • Superior to the standard metal siding usually found on aircraft hangars.
  • The anticipated lifespan is greater than 60 years.
  • Constructed with approximately 35% recycled steel and, at end of life, can in turn be recycled.
  • Constructed from materials that have a low embodied carbon footprint – 28% lower than conventional tilt-up assemblies.

The structure spans 85.6 metres. Substantial clear span has been achieved using prefabricated trusses. The steel tonnage to span ratio is approximately 30% less than conventional rolled steel section beams.

Fire protection involves dual systems. In addition to a conventional sprinkler system, the aircraft parking and maintenance areas are equipped with an instantaneous foam deluge system. In the event of a fire, the multi-layers of fire suppression do not rely on a conventional single source of water supply. The city hydrant system is fully supplemented by an onsite underground water storage tank containing approximately 1.2 million litres of water.

Instead of rain/stormwater flowing directly to and overstressing existing city mains, two 173,000-litre underground tanks are being installed at the Porter hangars to capture excess.

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