The Aeromax Loadstar is being promoted as an alternative to the de Havilland Twin Otter — the longtime workhorse of the utility aircraft industry.

With a 60-foot wingspan and measuring 50 feet in length, the Aeromax Loadstar boasts a spacious cargo bay with a 5,000-pound capacity. Perhaps most importantly, it can accommodate standard-sized shipping containers, which the Twin Otter can’t.

  • Dec. 24, 2008 7:00 p.m.

With a 60-foot wingspan and measuring 50 feet in length, the Aeromax Loadstar boasts a spacious cargo bay with a 5,000-pound capacity. Perhaps most importantly, it can accommodate standard-sized shipping containers, which the Twin Otter can’t.

A full-scale mock-up of the Aeromax Loadstar was created about three years ago, said Terry Ferguson, an investment adviser who is working as the project’s facilitator in Canada. The funding for the mock-up and an updated feasibility study was provided by Burnt Lake Management — a group of investors who included about a dozen people from the Red Deer area.

Among them was Merv Phillips, the former CEO of the Red Deer Regional Airport Authority.

“The mock-up is still at the airport,” said Phillips, adding that he hasn’t been directly involved with the Aeromax Loadstar project for some time.

But he still thinks the aircraft has “great possibilities.”

“There’s a need for an aircraft to fill the Twin Otter niche, as we call it, and this aircraft was certainly the answer.”

In addition to being well-suited for hauling cargo for energy companies, the Aeromax Loadstar could transport express packages, carry passengers, and serve as a mobile office or surgery unit, a fire bomber or as a base for emergency operations.

Phillips said he was initially interested in the project because he saw it as a potential business for the Red Deer Regional Airport. Eventually, he invested in it.

Ponoka has been identified as a place where an Aeromax Loadstar factory might be set up. Brad Watson, the town’s chief administrative officer, has become a booster of the aircraft.

“I’ve done a lot of homework on it and the plane is next generation for the workhorse of the airline industry.”