In the early days of the business, our founder and CEO Barry Lapointe would often accept cherry pies and sides of beef as payment from farmers who were cash strapped but needed their crop dusters repaired. Barry wanted to expand the business beyond fixing aircraft: he also wanted to run an airline. Applications for an Air Operators Certificate were rejected, so instead he bought an airline, West Coast Air Services, in 1974. He started a commercial airline flying people within the interior of BC, from Kelowna to Kamloops or Sicamous and surrounding area. However, everything changed one night in 1977. Barry answered the phone late in the evening and Bill Mazhar of Purolator was on the line. “He said he found my name in some directory and he wanted to know if I had an aircraft that could take 1000 pounds of freight,” says Barry. “I said yes and then he asked if I could be in Vancouver at six in the morning.” Labour disputes were disrupting flights and essential banking documents needed to be transported between Vancouver and Calgary. This frantic phone call in the middle of the night started a relationship between Purolator and KF Aerospace that has been ongoing since.
While there is significant financial risk with any new venture into a global markets like aviation, Barry is proud to acknowledge a recorded profit annually since the inception in 1970. KF offers its clients true, one-stop service. KF can fly, maintain, modify, engineer, paint and train both crew and mechanics. This includes mechanical, avionics, engines, stretching Convair’s, adding cargo doors, and military upgrade programs (T-33, MI-17).
At a young age, Barry demonstrated his leadership and management skills with an instinctive ability to lead and inspire others. It’s a success story of a single AME, with confident optimism, which has now grown to over 800 employees, a fleet of over 60 aircraft and significant operations across Canada. These include 3 main bases in Kelowna, Hamilton and Southport (Portage la Prairie), and as well as 1 satellite base in Vancouver, BC.
KF was the exclusive air cargo carrier for Purolator Courier (PCL) for over 30 years (from 1985 - 2015). KF owned the night sky with a fleet of Boeing 727’s and Convair 580’s, and provided the capability of moving approximately 500,000 lbs. of freight nightly. In 2008, in conjunction with PCL, KF began support operations for Canada Post with the purchase and operation of the two largest dedicated freighters in Canada (DC10-30F). In addition, KF now provides BC Feeder service to Purolator (CV580's) and International freight service to Solar Cargo (DC10's)
In 2002 KF led an all Canadian Team to bid on the Canadian Forces Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) contract. This included CHL, B&M and Atlantis to provide a turn-key operation for the Canadian Air Force. In 2005 KF was awarded the 22 year, $1.8 billion dollar contract as the prime contractor.
2005 to 2009 was a period of tremendous growth in Kelowna. The base was expanded including Hangars, Engine and Landing Gear Shop facilities.
KF now completes heavy maintenance and/or modifications on over 150 aircraft annually. In 2009 KF was awarded a contract to maintain and modify the Buffalo and Twin Otter Search & Rescue aircraft based in Western Canada.