Sea planes to be built at Brunswick Landing

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BRUNSWICK — Finnish company Atol Avian has announced it will start producing amphibious airplanes at Brunswick Landing in the next year.

“Where most planes are for transportation, this is for recreation,” Paul Richards, president of the newly formed company, said by phone recently. “This is for the sheer joy of flying.”

The small, dual-passenger sport planes — the price tag is just under $200,000 — are capable of landing on land or water, so “you aren’t limited to airports,” Richards said.

Six planes are already in production in Finland, according to Richards, where Atol Avian developed the design.

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Atol USA, a joint venture between the Finnish company and a U.S.-based investor group, was formed to produce the planes in Brunswick. Richards said production is expected to start in the next 12 to 18 months, after the design is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

He said the company expects to eventually employ about 50 people as production ramps up over 36 months.

The target customers are “fairly affluent, adventure-minded individuals,” Richards said, similar to the market for boats, high-end sports cars, or recreation vehicles.

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, charged with redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station into a business center, has made aviation companies a cornerstone of its redevelopment plan.

“Brunswick Landing has a world-class aviation complex,” Richards acknowledged, adding that the concentration of nearby related industries and technical expertise influenced his company’s decision to land in Brunswick.

By moving to 74 Orion St. — formerly Hangar 4 — the company will join a hub of aviation companies, including Kestrel Aircraft and Tempus Jets.

Hangar 4 is also within TechPlace, the business campus’ technology incubator “where there are machine shops, paint booths, weld shops (and) various manufacturing pieces of infrastructure that we will leverage,” Richards said, in addition to the 40,000-square-foot refurbished space.

“We have world-class assets to leverage on this project and have invested heavily to attract operations such as Atol,” MRRA director Steve Levesque said in a news release.

“For instance, we are currently constructing an environmentally controlled composites layup room, curing oven and paint booth, all designed to aviation standards and sized to accept wings, fuselages and other large structures. These complement our CNC machining center, welding shops, 3D printers and on-site Composites Engineering Research Lab in TechPlace,” he said.

European customers are set to receive the first round of Finnish-made planes this July, according to the release.

Finnish-American aircraft company Atol USA plans to start making amphibious planes next year at Brunswick Landing. The dual-passenger sport planes cost nearly $200,000 and are capable of landing on land or water.

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