Phase 3: VWOC in Gatineau (2014-2017)
The original VWOC plan was to ship the completed wings to Comox, using available hangar space in the GRA for the installation of the wings on the fuselage. In 2011 the Spitfire workshop was renovated, increasing the workspace to install the wings. However, in order to get the aircraft out of the workshop the wings would have to be removed, this is difficult and time consuming. The problems with using a 19 Wing hangar were threefold: it would take up valuable hangar space, all VWOC staff would need ongoing GRA access, and the aircraft would not be accessible to the public.
The original plan also proposed conducting the test flight program here. This simply did not stand the test of time for several reasons:
- Lack of hangar space;
- The test flight team members all lived in Ottawa; and
- Test flying is risky; therefore it must take place in an area with many suitable forced landing sites. Geographically, the Comox area is singularly ill-suited for single-engine aircraft test flights.
Shipping the fuselage to Gatineau was clearly the most practical, efficient and economical plan, in particular because a fuselage is easier to ship than wings and certainly less delicate. The Gatineau facility was purpose built, equipped and manned for such a task. This included the access to specialised aircraft painting facilities. Furthermore, the facilities and test pilots to conduct the test flight program were based in Gatineau. Based on the rationale above, 19 Wing Comox agreed to the departure of the Y2K fuselage in September 2014, all other contract conditions were still in force.