SRDC NEWS

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VECTOR UPGRADES CAPACITY WITH NEW ENGINE TEST CELL

Trevor Hogan sat behind a shiny new control panel Wednesday morning, with all kinds of monitors, buttons and switches arrayed in front of him.

"It is awesome," he laughed. 'It's just the best of everything. Compared to our old test cell, which was about 25 years old, this is just the best of the best," he said, gesturing to the equipment.

Hogan is one of the operators of Vector Aerospace - Atlantic's new engine test cell, the fourth at its Slemon Park facility.

The cells are essentially concrete rooms where airplane engines can be hooked up to monitoring equipment and put through their paces before being returned to their owners.

The company's two older test cells each handle a certain series of engine types. This new cell is compatible with both those types and can be outfitted to accept new and larger engines.

Ownership of the cell is being held by the Summerside Regional Development Corporation and leased to Vector. Taxpayers contributed a $1.5 million loan to the project.

The aerospace company, which is celebrating its 25th year in P.E.I., went all out to unveil the new equipment, inviting a host of Island dignitaries, some of their biggest clients as well as company CEO Declan O'Shea to view the new facility.

Jeff Poirier, local president, said that extra capacity will allow the company to go after new, and potentially much larger, contracts than they've traditionally had access to.

"We're very happy," said Poirier. He added that the additional test cell not only offers expanded capacity, but also redundancy if one of their other test cells were to go offline for some reason.

"It's a very competitive landscape that we go into now with our competitors and if you miss a turn time or two, your test cell is down for a week or two, you may lose a contract," he said.

While the new equipment has not directly resulted in any job creation, Poirier said it has helped secure Vector's future in Summerside for the next number of years. The company is the second largest private employer in P.E.I. with 457 people working in the Slemon Park facility. Vector renewed its lease on its facility here for another 15 years in June of 2015.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com