Government urges aerospace innovation, adoption of new technologies

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Speaking at an Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) conference today, the federal minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development promised to work with the industries to support the research and entrepreneurship that will keep them “ahead of the curve” in innovation and competitiveness. To help achieve this, Navdeep Bains said he would “revitalize” the Space Advisory Board. This is a board that was created by the previous government in 2014 and met for the first time in April of this year. It was created following a comprehensive review of the aerospace sector in Canada to provide the government with expert advice on Canada’s role and future in space. Original members included Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield as well as industry, government and academic leaders. One of its first decisions was to organize the Space Policy Symposium at which Bains spoke today in Ottawa.

No new money was announced, but in early October, Bains announced an investment of up to $54 million in a consortium of fifteen Canadian companies and academic institutions that will develop cutting edge electric and aerodynamic systems. The consortium is led by Bombardier, with partners Rolls-Royce, Thales, Microturbo, Liebherr, OPAL-RT, Quaternion Aerospace, FuisA, Axis, the universities of Toronto and Victoria, Ryerson Universtiy, McGill University, the National Research Council, and Polytechnique Montréal. The money will be delivered under the Technology Demonstration Program.

Canada’s aerospace and space industries are leaders in innovation. These industries will need to stay ahead of the curve and focus on continuous improvement to remain competitive. Taking risks and embracing new technologies are central to an innovation mindset. I am confident that Canada’s aerospace and space sectors are ready to accept the challenge to invest in the people and technologies that will propel them to growth and will keep high-paying jobs in Canada.

The importance of the aerospace and space sector to Canada’s economy is enormous. It is the country’s number one R&D investor and contributed more than $28 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2015, according to the AIAC annual report for 2015. It supports 211,000 jobs, and close to 80 per cent aerospace manufacturing was exported. Exports to countries other than the US are double the average for Canadian manufacturers.

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Rob Dewar, seated third from left, is the recipient of the James C Floyd Award announced today. Dewar led the team that developed Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft.

Also at the Ottawa symposium, the man who led the Bombardier’s CSeries Aircraft Program Team, Rob Dewar, was awarded the James C Floyd Award by the AIAC. The award, named in honour of the chief engineer on the famous Avro Arrow project, is given to Canadians who make important contributions to aerospace innovation and leadership. The president of the AIAC called the CSeries the biggest Canadian commercial aerospace program ever launched. Jim Quick said that the achievement highlights “everything that we celebrate about Canada’s aerospace industry: innovation, perseverance, and a commitment to world-class products and services that drive our economy and push the limits of human ingenuity and creativity.” Accepting the award, Dewar also referred to the “perseverance” of the team. Development of the CSeries began in 2004.

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