KF Aerospace (formerly Kelowna Flightcraft) plans to build a $25-million exhibition hall and conference centre beside its facilities at Kelowna International Airport.
The 50,000-square-foot KF Aerospace Centre for Excellence will celebrate the legacy of KF founder Barry Lapointe.
Lapointe started KF with a single plane 49 years ago and did crop-dusting and short-range charters.
Over the next five decades, he built it into the company it is today — one of the largest aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul operations in the world.
It also delivers air cargo and does charters, as well as pilot and military training.
KF is Kelowna’s largest private-sector employer, with 750 workers at its Kelowna headquarters as well as bases in Hamilton, Portage la Prairie, Man., and Vancouver.
Lapointe has received the Order of British Columbia and been inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame.
The centre will have ground and air access from Kelowna airport’s runway.
It will house a museum, aircraft hangars, conference space, classrooms, a cafeteria and airfield viewing gallery.
About 15,000 square feet will be dedicated to the aircraft maintenance engineering programs that Okanagan College operates at KF’s campus.
Construction on the low-slung, glass building with cantilevered roof with attached hangars will start next spring for completion in 2022. Construction is scheduled to start March 25, 2020, which coincides with KF’s 50th anniversary.
“We want to provide a first-hand aerospace experience for the public, from commercial and military operations to maintenance and manufacturing,” said Lapointe.
“By providing a central source for education, training, career and policy development, the centre will be a proud home to our ever-expanding aerospace community.”
Lapointe has launched a non-profit society to operate the centre. On the society’s board of directors so far are KF president Tracy Medve, the centre’s executive director, Paula Quinn, and KF capital advisory board member David Burke.
KF also partnered with Kelowna’s airport and Okanagan College to make the centre possible.