EnviroTREC highlight of Thompson Chamber of Commerce AGM

Bob Hastings, executive director of the Environmental Test Research and Educational Centre (EnviroTREC), which is building a $40-million cold environment test research and education centre at Ospwagon Lake, was the guest speaker at the Thompson Chamber of Commerce's annual general meeting held at the Juniper Centre on Jan. 27.

The state-of-the-art cold weather testing facility, which will be used by Rolls-Royce Canada Limited and Pratt & Whitney, was officially announced in Thompson by former Premier Gary Doer last April 16. The first phase has cost about $44 million and will see two main facilities built near Ospwagon Lake. The second phase will cost approximately $38 million.

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Hastings says that the newest engines in the world will be tested in Thompson with the new facility to help address problems that have been in the aviation industry for a long time. The two sites will hold a control room and preparation area and a site where engines will actually be tested, called a fuel handing test site.

Hastings says the opening ceremonies for the sites will be held in September. The primary focus of the facility's testing will be on icing, hail and water testing and cold soak certification. He says there is also potential to test for endurance, emissions, noise of engines and bird ingestion in the future.

The aviation engines that will be tested at the facility will have up to 115,000 certified pounds of thrust and can be as big as 23 feet long and weigh up to six tonnes.

The Global Aerospace Centre for Icing and Environmental Research Inc. (GLACIER) will own the facility jointly between Rolls-Royce Canada Limited and Pratt & Whitney. EnviroTREC is the not-for-profit organization that is responsible for the site's technology and human resources development. MDS aero support will operate, maintain and market the site.

According to Hastings, having the state-of-the-art testing facility in Thompson will have numerous benefits for the city's business community - especially since global market indications show that flying will only become more popular as a way to travel.

"Air travel is the safest form of travel in the world. However, we do have incidents, and if you have more travel, you're going to have more incidents. So the goal is to increase an already safe way of travel very significantly," he explains. "By the time this facility is completed, it will do 80 per cent of the testing certification in Canada."

Hastings adds that the facility in Thompson is unique, as it will be the first large direct connect facility and the first and only ice-crystal capable site - one of there facilities globally capable of large engine icing certification.

Before Hastings presentation, chamber members got to review the chamber's treasurer's report. In the report, Michael Trudeau, the treasurer, points out that 2009 saw a decline of chamber income by approximately nine per cent. Membership revenue went down six per cent and expenses went up one per cent - putting the chamber into deficit this year.

"Although we are a non-profit organization, we still rely on revenues to exceed our expenses so we can continue to operate and improve our business community," Trudeau says in his report. "If we try to eliminate any of our expenses then we would be eliminating part of our community support. As we are part of the community I feel that this is not the direction that we should head towards."

Trudeau also says that it will be important for the Thompson Chamber of Commerce to find businesses that are not part of the chamber and encourage them to join.

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