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Video: Skyline Helicopter signs sky-high deal with Sikorsky

Lively company will now be servicing centre for S-76 chopper

Skyline Helicopter Technologies and Sikorsky officials held a press conference today to announce the signing of an agreement authorizing the Lively as a customer support centre for the S-76 helicopter.

The chopper is manufactured by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company. 

Final job creation and financial impact information weren’t available for the press conference, but Joe Natale, the president of Skyline Helicopter Technologies, said two helicopter engineering jobs would be added right away.

And officials said Friday that they expect more announcements with more jobs to come as the support centre grows.

"This is a very special day,” Natale said. “We are excited to begin working with the team at Sikorsky to enhance its customers’ experiences in the region and provide world class maintenance support.

“This is great news for the Greater Sudbury area as we continue to evolve from a mining community to a hub of innovative expertise.”

He said Skyline is marking its 20th year of operations, and some of his staff have been with him from the beginning. Friday marked a new starting point for the industry and his company, he said. They are planning some big investments, including a revamp of the entire landing area, adding special tools, training and adding new staff.

"It's going to allow us to continue to grow," Natale said, of the agreement. "We look forward to the coming years with Sikorsky as a business partner."

Dan Melanson, who emceed Friday's news conference in Lively and has decades of experience in the helicopter industry, said Sudbury was used for testing of the first commercially built helicopter in 1947. 

The agreement between Skyline and Sikorsky is another milestone for the rebirth of the aerospace industry in the city.

"There were a number of other locations that were in the running, but the dedication, teamwork and experience that the Skyline Team brought to the table was such that they were able to convince Sikorsky that they were one one they should be partnering with for the long term," Melanson said. 

 "As far as I'm concerned, the team Joe has put together here at Skyline is the best in
the business."

Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault was quick to point out that the agreement came without any role for the province.

"Today's announcement has nothing to do with government," Thibeault said. "(But) our government is committed to making sure we support the aerospace industry and the development and growth of the aerospace industry in the North.

"What a great place for us to grow it, right here in the hub, in the centre of Northern Ontario. Because we can actually expand throughout all of Northern Ontario right through here."

Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre said it marked an important step forward in economic diversification for an area reliant on mining.

"It's great to see this new industry coming to Sudbury,” Lefebvre said. "This represents not only new opportunities, but lots of jobs. It's not everyday that you see the rebirth of an industry, but that is exactly what is happening here today."

Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré thanked Sikorsky for making a “crucial” investment in the North.

"You will not regret your investment here,” Serré said. “The community is supportive of the industry and supportive of the private sector and of entrepreneurs."

“Sikorsky is thrilled to provide customers in the region with a support centre offering personalized logistic and maintenance support,” said Joe Triompo, vice-president, Sikorsky’s customer support, in the news release.

“As a Sikorsky-Authorized Customer Support Centre, Skyline will ensure our S-76 helicopter customers will receive quick access to the most advanced service capabilities.”



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