David Curtis, President and CEO, Viking Air Ltd.

David Curtis, President and CEO, Viking Air Ltd. | BCBusiness

From the 2013 Influencer Index: The CEO of Viking Air has helped build the B.C. aerospace sector from the ground up 

David Curtis heads the only Canadian airplane manufacturer west of Ontario, a company that is anchoring B.C.’s burgeoning aerospace sector with a manufacturing capacity that he says quadrupled in size last year. Operations have been bolstered by new business like the $30-million contract with China’s Meiya Air and the 2006 purchase of type certificates from Bombardier, giving Viking license to build its de Havilland Twin Otter.

“Dave is a real leader, both provincially and nationally, in aerospace,” says David Schellenberg, former chair of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and president and CEO of Cascade Aerospace Inc. “He’s both visionary and really practical at the same time.”

In an industry that exports 80 per cent of its products, Curtis has the accolades to prove he’s leading Viking in the right direction for growth. Last November, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters association gave Viking the Premier’s Award for Job Creation and named them the B.C. Exporter of the Year, the result of selling aircraft to more than 10 countries and an order book that exceeds $400 million.

“B.C. has been growing its aerospace capabilities and Dave is a big leader in that,” adds Schellenberg. “He’s growing our share of the pie by selling internationally and exporting the product.”

Curtis calls Viking’s break into the Asian market a “$2.5-billion opportunity” with huge implications for B.C.’s aerospace sector. If Viking’s first Chinese order is any indication, Curtis’s leadership and vision will pay off even more.