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Dornier picks Quebec to build seaplane Add to ...

Dornier Seaplane Co. is set to announce Monday its long-awaited decision to assemble its luxury amphibious aircraft in Quebec instead of North Bay, Ont.

Quebec cabinet ministers will join company chairman Conrado Dornier and chief executive officer Joe Walker at a news conference in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, east of Montreal, for the announcement.

The 10-seat Seastar, which sells for about $6-million, has already received 25 orders.

The plant is expected to create 150 to 200 jobs and about 70 jobs at engine supplier Pratt & Whitney Canada in Longueuil, Que., and Lethbridge, Alta.

"It was a difficult choice," Dornier spokeswoman Laurie Adler said in an interview.

Ms. Adler declined to say whether the Quebec government is providing any funding.

Dornier had narrowed down the assembly site choice to the two Canadian cities last year after eliminating Trois-Rivières, Que., Florida and Alabama from contention.

The finalists were selected based on the availability of skilled labour, low real estate and infrastructure costs, availability of local suppliers and proximity to nearby lakes for flight testing.

North Bay Mayor Victor Fedeli declined to comment on Dornier's decision.

Despite Montreal's strong aerospace sector, North Bay was considered a strong competitor because it is home to Canadore College's aviation school, a source of potential employees.

The Seastar was certified in the United States and Europe in the early 1990s. Some early models were built in Germany before the program ran into financial difficulties.

The Dornier family invested about $150-million (U.S.) to relaunch the program.

Conrado Dornier, the company's chairman and grandson of founder Claude Dornier, has said he was pleased to build on the family's 100-year aircraft legacy in Canada.

In addition to selecting a final assembly site, the company has been in detailed discussions with major suppliers.

Since its founding in the early 1900s, Dornier has manufactured more than 10,000 aircraft, including some 1,000 seaplanes.

The company's founder began working with Count Zeppelin and went on to found the original Dornier Metallbauten.

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