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Viking flies higher with energy efficiency improvements

Image of a Viking Air Twin Otter at night
Since 2006, Viking Air of Sidney, B.C., has been responsible for the engineering and parts procurement for the Twin Otter and other de Havilland aircraft.

Power Smart incentives should cut payback period on lighting upgrade to 2.4 years

When Viking Air Limited in Sidney, B.C., took over the de Havilland legacy aircraft line, it brought history under its roof. That gave the company all the more reason to get rid of its old-fashioned lighting.

"As our manufacturing operations have changed there's a huge emphasis on quality and on creating the right environment, a world-class environment," says Viking's facilities manager, James Phelps.

Phelps says new lighting was a priority for two of Viking's three buildings. "The old metal halides were not giving the kind of light that was either highlighting the product or highlighting the facility."

Energy efficient lighting offers 'world-class' environment

Viking started out doing maintenance, repair and overhaul on different types of aircraft, including flying boats. In 2006, the company bought the rights to the type certificates for seven de Havilland aircraft, making it responsible for the engineering and parts procurement for the Buffalo, Beaver, Twin Otter, and others.

The company has three buildings, the newest of which was built to Power Smart standards.

"The older two buildings are legacy buildings and they had some much older, much more power-intensive systems in them," Phelps says. With experience overseeing a similar upgrade in a previous job, Phelps began planning for aircraft hangar lighting improvements when he started at Viking about two years ago.

A member of the Power Smart Alliance provided an assessment of the company's operations, and Phelps took it from there. The company replaced 103 metal halide lamps with induction lights in one building and converted 304 lights in another from T12 to T8 lighting.

Phelps says the process went well from start to finish. "Like with anything, there's always a hiccup or two, but for the most part it was fairly seamless," he says.

Image of Viking Air facility at night

New lighting transforms facility, increases profitability and improves morale

The total project cost "was substantial," says Phelps, but an incentive from BC Hydro of nearly 50 per cent of the project cost sweetened the pot.

"It's fabulous," he says. "Where else can you get free money?"

The electricity savings are projected to be 368,755 KWh a year and the payback period on the investment is estimated at 2.4 years.

Phelps has seen other lighting upgrade benefits. Hangar 2 "was fairly dark; it was like an old hangar," he says. "Changing the lights made a significant difference to lighting levels. The morale has dramatically increased."

Next step: new compressor

The company is now looking at other areas to improve energy efficiency.

"We're in the process of procuring a compressor to help save money," Phelps says. "Right now we have one that is massively oversized in the one building and one that is critically undersized in the other building, so we are essentially doubling up on electricity usage.

"We're putting in a VFD [variable frequency drive] one that will be able to meet our demands."

Phelps says Power Smart incentives are great, and he says to make the most of them it's worth doing some research. "Shop around to find the right product at the right price before you pull the trigger," he says.