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Large aircraft doing testing at North Bay, Ont., airport

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An international aerospace company is using North Bay, Ont.’s airport as a testing centre.

The Airbus A350-900 at Jack Garland Airport in North Bay, Ont. in May 2024. (Supplied/Bryan Avery)

Airbus, a self-described “global pioneer in the aerospace industry,” designs, produces and delivers products and services to “create a better-connected, safer and more prosperous world” which include commercial aircraft, helicopters, defence vehicles, security services and space programs.

Bryan Avery, the airport manager at Jack Garland Airport (YYB) called the project “the culmination of months of work by the airport and community partners in working with Airbus,” in an email to CTV News.

The test vehicle, an Airbus A350-900, arrived in North Bay on May 14.

“North Bay is honoured to welcome Airbus, direct from their headquarters in Toulouse, France as they arrived on Tuesday with their A350-900 Flightlab aircraft after an approximate 7.5hr flight,” said Avery.

“Over the next two weeks, Airbus will be utilizing the operational capacity and convenience of the North Bay Jack Garland Airport and surrounding airspace to conduct systems testing of their flightlab aircraft while in flight.”

As the cornerstone member in Airbus’ A350 Family, the A350-900 accommodates 300-350 passengers in a standard three-class configuration and flies efficiently on everything from short-range segments to ultra-long-range routes of up to 18,000km non-stop. (Supplied/Airbus)

Airport officials said they are excited Airbus chose North Bay to conduct their flight program.

“Now that they’re here it’s arguably even more exciting to continue to support their day-to-day operations,” said Avery.

“Supporting such a large aircraft operation takes considerable effort and planning by many people, companies and agencies in our community. We’re grateful for the work of all those partners; including Voyageur Aviation and Canada Border Services Agency right here in North Bay to name a few.”

The Airbus A350-900 is 220ft long and weighs up to 620,000 lbs. It is one of the largest aircraft to visit or utilize the North Bay airport.

The Airbus A350-900 at Jack Garland Airport in North Bay, Ont. in May 2024. (Supplied/Bryan Avery)

“It’s my understanding that it’s the second largest aircraft to do so, with the Antonov 124 being the largest in the 1990s,” said Avery.

For information on the Airbus A350-900 can be found here.

Over the years, the Jack Garland Airport has supported operations of large aircraft such as the Ilyushin IL76 and Boeing 777 and 787 in cargo and passenger operations respectively.

“Supporting Airbus and the operations of their second largest production aircraft presently is an extraordinary opportunity for YYB as well as the City of North Bay,” said Avery.

The airport manager added that large aircraft operations are not new to YYB as in the past they have worked with several air carriers to address unexpected diversions and have also been used for testing and development of aircraft as well.

“(The) A350-900 marks the largest test program aircraft however, as well as the furthest travelled aircraft to undertake testing here in North Bay,” he said.

Airport staff said this testing demonstrates Jack Garland’s capability for large aircraft operations – including those for commercial and military use as demonstrated earlier in the month with the operations by the Canadian Armed Forces Emergency Response Exercise utilizing C130 and Chinook.

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