BRUNSWICK, Maine — Brunswick Landing will become the U.S. headquarters and production base for a new class of high-performance amphibious aircraft, the manufacturer Atol Avion announced Tuesday.
The Atol 650 is a high-performance, amphibious “light sport aircraft,” according to a release from Atol USA Inc., a joint venture of Atol Avion in Finland and a “U.S.-based investor group.”
Components of the aircraft are made of carbon-fiber, aluminum, Kevlar and wood composites, making the Atol 650 “a serious adventure machine,” Atol USA President Paul Richards said in the release.
According to its website, “with wings folded,” the Atol 650 measures seven feet, three inches wide and weighs 826 pounds empty. A standard model costs $179,000.
The company will produce the Atol 650 for other markets in Finland, with deliveries to European customers in late 2017 and deliveries from Brunswick scheduled for mid-2018.
Richards, from Maine and a graduate of the University of Maine, said Tuesday that “the assets” at Brunswick Landing, including a focus on the composites industry and a skilled workforce, offset factors that “make it a little arduous” to do business in Maine.
Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the entity charged with redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, said in the release that the authority has invested heavily in “world-class assets” to attract companies, such as Atol.
Still in its initial phases, the company will work from Tech Place for now before moving into Hangar 4 as production begins.
After past efforts to launch aviation businesses at Brunswick Landing, including Kestrel, Oxford Aviation and Tempus Jets, fell far short of initial job creation projections, Richards isn’t throwing out any numbers just yet.
Atol USA has not yet taken advantage of economic incentives offered by the state and other groups, and has made no promises of a specific job count. But Richards said he’s hopeful the firm will begin hiring within 12 to 18 months.
The Atol 650 is currently working through European certification, he said, and about half a dozen aircraft are in production there now. They expect certification by the FAA to follow.
Other aviation companies currently operating at the former Navy base include One Aviation, Tempus Jets, Flight Level Aviation, MVP Aero, Brunswick Aviation Services and Maine Coastal Flight.
The Maine Aviation Business Association thinks “this project has all the elements required for success: a great product, good team and a world class location,” chairman Barry Valentine said in the release. “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.”