Discovery Air

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Discovery Air
IndustrySpecialized Aviation
FounderDavid Taylor
Key people
Jacob (Koby) Shavit, President and CEO
Paul Bernards, CFO Edit this on Wikidata

Discovery Air (DA), founded in 2004, was a specialized aviation company that operated primarily in Canada.


Acquisitions and growth[edit]

In 2004, Discovery Air was created by David Taylor. It was incorporated by the Pacific & Western Bank of Canada, whose CEO and president was David Taylor. In December of the same year, Discovery Air acquired 50% of Hicks & Lawrence, later renamed "Discovery Air Fire Services", with the other 50% being acquired in 2005.[1]

In April 2006, Discovery Air completed an initial public offering of $3.85 million.[2] Discovery Air then purchased Great Slave Helicopters (GSH) in June 2006, Air Tindi in December 2006, the Wheel Division Assets of Walsten Air Service (through its subsidiary Hicks and Lawrence) in March 2007, Top Aces (later renamed Discovery Air Defence Services) in August 2007,[1] and Discovery Mining Services in January 2008.[3]

In January 2009, Discovery Air received a Can$34 million loan from the Government of the NWT,[4][5] which had been repaid by 2012.[6]

In October 2010, Discovery Air started operations at Discovery Air Technical Services.[7] In 2011, Discovery Air announced the opening of a new business unit, Discovery Air Innovations, which signed a provisional deal with Hybrid Air Vehicles to purchase hybrid airships for use in Northern Canada. The deal, which the companies hoped to have finalised by 2012, and could have involved up to 45 airships at $40 million per craft, with the first being delivered in 2014.[8] In 2011, Discovery Air Fire Services announced the launch of a new subsidiary, Discovery Aviation Academy.[9] On 8 August 2012, it was announced that Discovery Air had let the deal with Hybrid Air Vehicles lapse as they no longer wished to purchase the vehicles.[10]

In 2012, Great Slave Helicopters acquired Servicios Aéreos Helicopters in Chile, which became SpA after the sale, and Great Slave Helicopters acquired Northern Air Support.[11] In 2013, Discovery Air acquired Advanced Training Systems International Inc.[12]

Debts and bankruptcy[edit]

In 2012, the company announced lay-offs for its subsidiary Air Tindi.[13]

  • 2016 - Premier Aviation completes purchase of Discovery Air Technical Services.
  • 2017 - Discovery Air completes the sale of Discovery Air Fire Services.
  • 2017 - Discovery Air completes privatization transaction.[14]

In December 2017, after Discovery Air Defence Services had a reorganized standalone financing plan laid out, two directors of Discovery Air left to become directors of Discovery Air Defence Services.[15] Discovery Air Defence was acquired by the Clearvest investment firm through a questionable deal where cleared debts in return for shares in DA Defence, but without going through the approval process which should include all debt covernants.[16] This led to a shareholders' debacle that precipitated the company's imminent bankruptcy. A group of investors was created to block Clearvest's progress in buying out Discovery Air's assets[17]

In March 2018, after declaring a bankruptcy for a $149 million debt, Discovery Air was granted creditor protection under the federal Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. The Clairvest Group, the largest creditor of Discovery Air ($72.7 million) offered to acquire Air Tindi, Great Slave Helicopters and Discovery Mining Services Ltd.[18] In April 2018,the court processed a sale solicitation process concerning Air Tindi, Great Slave Helicopters and Discovery Mining Services Ltd.[19] On 27 April 2018, Discovery Air was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.[20]

In September 2018, Great Slave Helicopters, after obtaining a creditor's protection from Ontario Superior Court of Justice, initiated a restructuration program to prepare for its sale.[21] In November 2018, Great Slave Helicopters was sold to Great Slave Helicopters 2018 Ltd. (formerly known as 11088211 Canada Corp), owned by Pat Campling Jr, a former interim CEO of West Wind Aviation.[22]


Through its subsidiary companies, Discovery Air provided aviation and aviation related services for corporate customers, and for the federal and provincial governments of Canada. Discovery Air operated units provide fixed-wing and rotary-wing services, and logistics and remote operations management services. This included cargo and passenger air charter services throughout Canada, vital medivac air services in the north, and utility flying for mining exploration.

The Northern Services segment consisted of three operating units: Great Slave Helicopters ("GSHL" or "GSH"), Air Tindi ("Tindi") and Discovery Mining Services ("DMS.") Together, these three operating units had a customer base servicing companies and government entities in the business of mineral, base and precious metal exploration and production, wildlife services, forest fire suppression, oil and gas exploration, power line construction and maintenance, aerial surveys, seismic, air ambulance, scheduled charters and tourism.

Operating units and fleet[edit]

Great Slave Helicopters[edit]

Founded in 1984, Great Slave Helicopters is a VFR and IFR helicopter operator in Canada with 64 helicopters in its fleet. It provided, alone and along with several First Nations and Inuit groups in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, scheduled and chartered passenger and air cargo services to private sector companies and governments.[23] Under the name Northlinx, Great Slave Helicopters had partnerships with Akaitcho Helicopters, Dehcho Regional Helicopters, Denendeh Helicopters, (49%, Evergreen Forestry Management has 51%), Gwich'in Helicopters, Havgun Helicopters, Hudson Bay Helicopters (100%), K'ahsho Got'ine Helicopters (majority First Nations owned), Kitikmeot Helicopters (49%, Bill and Jessie Lyall own 51% ) Kivallingmiut/Kivalliq Aviation (majority Inuit owned, Air Tindi is also a minority share holder), Sahtu Helicopters (49%, various land corporations have 51%), Superior Helicopters and Tlicho Helicopters. As per the Civil Aircraft Register, the Great Slave fleet consists of 64 helicopters. The Great Slave website also listed the Bell 407 that is not shown in the Transport Canada registration list. Numbers correct as of January 4, 2013:[24]

Great Slave Helicopters Fleet
Aircraft No. of Aircraft Variants Notes
Astar 350 23 AS350 B2, AS350 B3, AS350 BA
Bell 205 6 205-A1, 205B The Great Slave Helicopters website lists 205A1++
Bell 206 24 206B, 206L, 206L-1, 206L-3, 206L-4 The 206L-1 is not listed at the Great Slave Helicopters website
Bell 212 9 212 Single, 212/212HP
Bell 412 1 412EP
Eurocopter EC130 1 EC130 B4

Air Tindi[edit]

Aqsaqniq Airways, registered to Air Tindi, at Cambridge Bay Airport

Air Tindi, founded in 1988, was a charter airline based in Yellowknife, NT. With their main base as the Yellowknife Airport, the company provided scheduled and on demand charter services throughout Northern and Western Canada. With 24 fixed-wing aircraft in their fleet, they are capable of transporting 46 passengers or 10,000 pounds of cargo. Tindi had the largest medivac fleet in Northern Canada. As of January 2016, Air Tindi had the following 27 aircraft registered with Transport Canada and listed with Air Tindi:[25][26]

Air Tindi Fleet
Aircraft No. of Aircraft
(TC list)
No. of Aircraft
(AT list)
Variants Notes
Beechcraft Super King Air 11 N/A Model 200, Model 200C, Model 300 Listed on the Air Tindi site as 200 Catpass, B-200C and 350
Cessna 208 4 N/A 208 Caravan, 208B Grand Caravan 7 and 9 passengers
de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter 1 0 Not listed at the Air Tindi website
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 5 N/A Series 300 19 passengers
Dash 7 5 N/A DHC-7-102, DHC-7-103 Combi aircraft, 46 passengers
Learjet 35 1 N/A 7 - 8 passengers

Northern Air Support[edit]

Great Slave Helicopters acquired Northern Air Support on February 21, 2012 which is based in Kelowna, British Columbia with a base in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.[11] As per the Civil Aircraft Register, the Northern Air Support fleet consists of 10 aircraft. Numbers correct as of January 4, 2013:[27]

Northern Air Support Fleet
Aircraft No. of Aircraft Variants Notes
Astar 350 4 AS350 B2
Bell 206 2 206B
Bell 407 3
MD 500 1 Listed by Transport Canada as Hughes 369D

Discovery Mining Services[edit]

Founded in 1991, Discovery Mining Services is a NWT-based company that provides remote exploration camps, expediting, logistics and staking services to primarily diamond and mineral exploration companies.

Hawk One[edit]

Discovery Air "Hawk One" Sabre over Gatineau Executive Airport.

Hawk One, officially Discovery Air Hawk One, is a Canadair Sabre owned by Vintage Wings of Canada that, in partnership with Discovery Air and the Department of National Defence has been refurbished. The aircraft, a Mk.5, was given an Orenda 14 engine and wings with leading-edge slats, making it closer to a Mk.6, and has been painted in the colours of the Golden Hawks. Hawk One, which tours Canada with the Snowbirds, has been flown on several occasions by astronaut Chris Hadfield.[28][29]



  1. ^ a b Darren Locke (15 September 2008). "One on one with Shawn Clarke, chief operating officer of Discovery Air". Wings Magazine. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Discovery Air Completes $3.85 Million Initial Public Offering". 4 June 2006. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  3. ^ Carey Fredericks (7 January 2008). "Discovery Air acquires Discovery Mining Services". Wings Magazine. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  4. ^ "MLA questions N.W.T.'s bailout of Discovery Air". CBC. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  5. ^ "N.W.T. bails out Discovery Air with $34M loan". CBC. 19 January 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  6. ^ Discovery Air announces early repayment of existing $34 million NWTOF indebtedness, amendments to existing secured convertible debentures and provision of a short term bridge loan from a related party
  7. ^ "Discovery Air Announces Commencement of Operations at Discovery Air Technical Services Inc". Aviation Pros. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Futuristic 'airships' planned for North". CBC. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  9. ^ Discovery Air Fire Services
  10. ^ "Discovery Air Innovations announces expiry of aircraft delivery options". L'Aviation. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Discovery Air Purchases Chilean Servicios Aéreos Helicopters". Fuego Digital Media. March 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  12. ^ David pugliese (18 May 2014). "Discovery Air Buys Advanced Training Systems International". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Discovery Air to lay off some Yellowknife employees". 27 November 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-12-19. Retrieved 2018-02-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Discovery Air Announces Board of Director Changes". Cision. 29 December 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Is Clearvest concealing crooked motives in its recent takeover of Discovery Air Defense Services?". Bond Yields. 10 January 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  17. ^ Randy Durig (29 January 2018). "Discovery Air Bondholders Organize To Oppose Clairvest's Takeover Of Discovery Air Defense Services". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Creditors fighting over assets of Great Slave Helicopters". CBC. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Discovery Air Inc. announces approval of sale process to preserve business; Affiliates of Clairvest submit stalking horse bids to purchase assets". 4 April 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Discovery Air Receives Delisting Decision by TSX". Cision. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  21. ^ Alex Baldwin (11 September 2018). "Great Slave Helicopters starts restructuring". Helicopter Investor. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  22. ^ Sidney Cohen (27 November 2018). "Buyer approved for Great Slave Helicopters, but questions remain for company's future". CBC. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Great Slave Helicopters Ltd". Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  24. ^ Great Slave Helicopters - Fleet
  25. ^ Our Fleet
  26. ^ "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: Quick Search Result for Air Tindi". Transport Canada. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
  27. ^ Northern Air Support’s Helicopters
  28. ^ "A flying tribute to a century of aviation history". Archived from the original on 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
  29. ^ Vintage Wings of Canada Hawk One The Return of a Legend Archived 2013-09-02 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Discovery Air Inc