Small, untested company behind plans for massive aerospace plant

Abbotsford was labelled a possible destination for a small company’s big manufacturing plans

A small, untested aerospace company is behind last month’s report by city staff that a U.S. firm had suggested Abbotsford as a potential destination for a huge new manufacturing plant.

Last month, an economic development staff update on potential new business leads said a company was eyeing Abbotsford as a potential site for a plant that could employ more than 10,000 workers. The report described two potential options: one a “$125 million investment and 7,000 jobs,” the other potentially employing more than 10,000.

RELATED: U.S. firm eyes Abbotsford for potential aerospace plant that could employ 10,000 workers

Documents obtained by The News earlier this month reveal that the company behind the possible plant is Stavatti, a firm that has a reputation for having big ideas that have never come to fruition.

In 2017, popular technology blog Motherboard reported that Stavatti wanted to build new jets for the U.S. Air Force, despite having “never made a plane.” The company, Motherboard wrote, “has shown off some impressively futuristic designs over the past decade. But so far it’s been … all hype.”

Earlier this year, Stavatti sent the city a request for information (RFI), declaring that it was “evaluating potential sites at which to establish an aircraft Prototyping and Development Center as well as an Aircraft Manufacturing and Final Assembly Plant.”

The RFI, which was obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information request, says the plant would “produce a variety of next generation military and civil aircraft.” The document says Stavatti hopes to occupy such a plant within three years.

One prospective plant would supposedly be able to procduce more than 100 aircraft each year, directly employ more than 7,000 people and have annual revenues of more than $9 billion. Another would be even larger. At one-million-square-feet, it would produce 3,200 planes, employ more than 10,000 people and rake in more than $11 billion.

The RFI says Stavatti received $1.5 billion in funding last November, although The News has been unable to find any other report of such a deal. Stavatti’s website is also inaccessible.

Stavatti’s RFI shows that the company has been eyeing airports around the globe. It says it has “shortlisted more than 70 potential locations.”

The RFI lists 10 aircraft it hopes to produce, including a commercial airliner, several different designs of fighter jets, and a “supersonic trainer.”

Only one aircraft has flown yet: a simple “sport utility” single-engine prop plane. But the RFI says the company is “rapidly developing these new aircraft” and requires a “Prototype Development Centre” and at least one production plant.

The News has not heard back from the company after contacting its CEO by email earlier this week.

The city has said the next round of engagement with the company is scheduled for early in 2020.

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Stavatti says it hopes to build 10 different planes and jets - most of which have never been built before - at a production plant.

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