Discovery Air

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Discovery Air
Traded as TSXDA.A
Industry Specialized Aviation
Founded 2004
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Jacob (Koby) Shavit, President and CEO[1]
Paul Bernards, CFO[2]

Discovery Air (DA), founded in 2004,[3] is a specialized aviation company that operates primarily in Canada. Through its subsidiary companies, Discovery Air provides aviation and aviation related services for corporate customers, and for the federal and provincial governments of Canada. Discovery Air operating units provide fixed-wing and rotary-wing services, and logistics and remote operations management services. This includes cargo and passenger air charter services throughout Canada, vital medivac air services in the north, and utility flying for mining exploration. Discovery Air business units also provide specialized services to provincial governments with forest fire detection and suppression, and provide airborne training and special mission services to the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force. Discovery Air also provides a range of maintenance, repair and overhaul services to airline customers through Discovery Air Technical Services, based in Quebec City.[4]

Headquartered in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and traded publicly on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol DA.A, Discovery Air's subsidiary companies have bases across Canada.[5]

Corporate history[edit]

  • 2004 - Discovery Air is incorporated by the Pacific & Western Bank of Canada.[6]
  • 2004 - Discovery Air acquires 50% of Hicks & Lawrence, later renamed "Discovery Air Fire Services", with the other 50% being acquired in 2005.[6][7]
  • 2006 - Discovery Air completes an initial public offering of $3.85 million.[8]
  • 2006 - Discovery Air acquires Great Slave Helicopters (GSH).[9]
  • 2006 - Discovery Air acquires Air Tindi.[6]
  • 2007 - Discovery Air purchases the Wheel Division Assets of Walsten Air Service.[10]
  • 2007 - Discovery Air acquires Top Aces, later renamed "Discovery Air Defence Services".[11]
  • 2008 - Discovery Air acquires Discovery Mining Services[12]
  • 2009 - Discovery Air received a Can$34 million loan from the Government of the NWT.[13]
  • 2010 - Discovery Air announces commencement of operations at Discovery Air Technical Services.[14]
  • 2011 - Discovery Air announces the opening of a new business unit, Discovery Air Innovations.[15]
  • 2012 - Discovery Air Innovations sign 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.[16][17]
  • 2011 - Discovery Air Fire Services announces launch of new subsidiary, Discovery Aviation Academy.[18]
  • 2012 - Discovery Air announces that it has repaid the 2009 government loan 10 months early.[19]
  • 2012 - 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.[20]
  • 2012 - Great Slave Helicopters acquires SpA.[21]
  • 2012 - Great Slave Helicopters acquires Northern Air Support.[22]
  • 2013 - Discovery Air acquires Advanced Training Systems International Inc.
  • 2016 - Premier Aviation completes purchase of Discovery Air Technical Services.
  • 2017 - Discovery Air completes the sale of Discovery Air Fire Services.

Operating units[edit]

Northern Services[edit]

The Northern Services segment consists of three operating units: Great Slave Helicopters ("GSHL" or "GSH"), Air Tindi ("Tindi") and Discovery Mining Services ("DMS.") Together, these three operating units have 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.[23]

Founded in 1984, Great Slave Helicopters is a VFR and IFR helicopter operator in Canada with 64 helicopters in its fleet.[24][25] It provides, 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.[26] Under the name Northlinx, Great Slave Helicopters has 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.[27]

Air Tindi, founded in 1988, is a charter airline based in Yellowknife, NT. With their main base as the Yellowknife Airport, they provide 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 has the largest medivac fleet in Northern Canada.[28]

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.[29]

Defence Services[edit]

Founded in 2000 by three former CF-18 pilots, Discovery Air Defence is a Quebec-based fixed wing aviation company that acts as the prime supplier of Contracted Airborne Training Services to the Canadian Armed Forces.[30] Former fighter pilots fly Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet, Douglas A-4 and IAI Westwind aircraft.[31]


Great Slave Helicopters[edit]

As per the Civil Aircraft Register, the Great Slave fleet consists of 64 helicopters. The Great Slave website also lists the Bell 407 that is not shown in the Transport Canada registration list. Numbers correct as of January 4, 2013.[24][32]

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

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.[33]

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

As per the Civil Aircraft Register, the Northern Air Support fleet consists of 10 aircraft. Numbers correct as of January 4, 2013.[34][35]

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

Air Tindi[edit]

As of January 2016, Air Tindi had the following 27 aircraft registered with Transport Canada and listed with Air Tindi:[36][37]

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

Discovery Air Defence[edit]

Discovery Air Defence operates the largest privately owned operational fighter plane fleet in the world. Discovery Air Defence aircraft do not have any RCAF markings and are not included in the RCAF aircraft inventory. Some Alpha Jets retained the Luftwaffe paint schemes but a few have been repainted in desert or northern camouflage. The fleet consists of:

Discovery Air Defence Active Fleet
Aircraft No. of Aircraft Variants Notes
Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet 16 Model A
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk 7 A-4N
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk 2 TA-4J
IAI Westwind 2 1124 Listed by Transport Canada as the Israel 1124


Discovery Air "Hawk One" Sabre over Gatineau Executive Airport

Hawk One[edit]

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.[39][40][41]


  1. ^ Discovery Air announces appointment of Jacob Shavit as President and CEO and appointment of Brian Semkowski as Chair of the Board
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ The Little Bank That Did
  4. ^ Discovery Air Announces Commencement of Operations at Discovery Air Technical Services Inc.
  5. ^ Company Profile
  6. ^ a b c One on one with Shawn Clarke, chief operating officer of Discovery Air
  7. ^ Hicks & Lawrence Ltd. announces the rebranding of its fire services business and the integration of Hawkeye Infrared Services
  8. ^ Discovery Air Completes $3.85 Million Initial Public Offering
  9. ^ Discovery Air Buys Great Slave Helicopters
  10. ^ Hicks & Lawrence Ltd. acquires Walsten Air Service
  11. ^ Discovery Air acquires Top Aces Inc
  12. ^ Discovery Air acquires Discovery Mining Services
  13. ^ MLA questions N.W.T.'s bailout of Discovery Air
  14. ^ Company Overview of Discovery Air Technical Services Inc.
  15. ^ Discovery Air Innovations
  16. ^ Futuristic 'airships' planned for North at CBC.
  17. ^ UK group secures commercial airship deal at the Financial Times
  18. ^ Discovery Air Fire Services
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Discovery Air lets airship deal lapse
  21. ^ Discovery Air Purchases Chilean Servicios Aéreos Helicopters
  22. ^ GSH Completes the Acquisition of Northern Air Support
  23. ^ Google Finance: DA.A TSE
  24. ^ a b Transport Canada listing of aircraft owned by "Great Slave Helicopters" Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Enter "Great Slave Helicopters" in the "Owner Name" box.
  25. ^ Great Slave Helicopters
  26. ^ Great Slave Helicopters Ltd
  27. ^ Great Slave Helicopters - Partnerships
  28. ^ Air Tindi Ltd. - Complete Profile
  29. ^ Discovery Mining Services
  30. ^ History
  31. ^ Top Aces - Our Team Archived August 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  32. ^ Great Slave Helicopters - Fleet
  33. ^ Discovery Air subsidiary Great Slave Helicopters acquires Northern Air Support
  34. ^ Transport Canada listing of aircraft owned by "Northern Air Support" Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Enter "Northern Air Support" in the "Owner Name" box.
  35. ^ Northern Air Support’s Helicopters
  36. ^ Our Fleet
  37. ^ "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: Quick Search Result for Air Tindi". Transport Canada. Retrieved 2015-01-15. 
  38. ^ Discovery Air Inc
  39. ^ A flying tribute to a century of aviation history
  40. ^ Vintage Wings of Canada Hawk One The Return of a Legend
  41. ^ Astronaut Chris Hadfield Flying the Golden F-86 Sabre for the Last Time at the Windsor International Air Show

External links[edit]