Aviation Centre of Excellence

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Confederation College - School of Aviation
Aviation Centre of Excellence.jpg
2003 Derek Burney Drive

Coordinates48°22′41″N 89°18′53″W / 48.37806°N 89.31472°W / 48.37806; -89.31472Coordinates: 48°22′41″N 89°18′53″W / 48.37806°N 89.31472°W / 48.37806; -89.31472
PrincipalPaul de Oude; Chair - School of Aviation
Colour(s)Blue and white

The Aviation Centre of Excellence, or ACE, is the aviation department facility for Confederation College. The 59,000-square-foot (5,500 m2) state-of-the-art building comprises two large hangars, classrooms, shops, labs, and offices for the three aviation programs at the School of Aviation.[1]

Confederation College, which opened its doors in 1967, offered both the Aircraft Maintenance since the late 1960s and the Aviation Flight Management programs since the late 1970s at the Thunder Bay International Airport, however they were located at separate hangars. The flight program was located at the Moffat Hangar on the Airport's air side. The maintenance program was located at a larger hangar closer to the airport terminal. The Aerospace Manufacturing program was run from Confederation's main campus.[1]

In the late 1990s, the college decided it would be beneficial to locate all three programs in one larger facility. The idea was to combine the School of Aviation into one cohesive unit, where students from all three programs would have access to new equipment and facilities, and could get an idea of what the other aviation careers were about.

Derek Burney, then the CEO and President of CAE, and a former resident of Thunder Bay played a large part in the development of the aviation centre, with funding and simulators delivered to the college.

Air Canada donated one of its retired DC-9 aircraft which arrived for the grand opening celebrations. The Aircraft landed with Confederation College emblems in addition to the Air Canada tail paint.

Construction of ACE began in 2002, and the building was completed in time for 2003 classes.

Confederation College Aviation Center of Excellence has been voted "Best Aviation College" in a poll by Aviation Canada.[2]


The Aviation Centre of Excellence is located at Thunder Bay International Airport, the third-busiest airport in the province of Ontario. The structure is located on the north side of runway 25 and adjacent to the Ornge Hangar. The centre has its own apron and taxiway to the runway.


There are three full-time post-secondary programs offered at ACE.

  • Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering Technician / Technologist
  • Aviation Technician-Aircraft Maintenance
  • Aviation Flight Management

The unofficial slogan of the Aviation Centre is "Build it, Fly it, Maintain it", relating to the three respective programs. ACE is heavily supported by companies such as Bombardier, Levaero, Jazz, Bearskin Airlines and Wasaya Airways. ACE has hosted the world-renowned Canadian Forces Snowbirds several times and various pilots and mechanics on the team were alumni.


ACE has a fleet of sixteen aircraft used for flight training; consisting of four types of Cessna aircraft. In addition the school has two advanced flight training devices (or non-motion simulators). One is a level 6 Frasca Beech Baron trainer, and the other is a level 2 generic trainer.

In addition there is a sizeable fleet of non-flying aircraft at ACE that is used by the Aircraft Maintenance program. This includes: