PLANT

Centennial College gets $26 million for aerospace training

The former de Havilland plant at Downsview Park will be turned into a classroom, workshop, hangar space, and an innovation centre.


TORONTO – Centennial College will receive up to $26 million from the Ontario government to relocate its aviation programs to the former de Havilland aircraft manufacturing centre at Downsview Park, an investment seen as a first step towards creating an aerospace training and research hub for the development of new technologies in Ontario.

The former de Havilland plant will be renovated to provide new classroom, workshop and hangar space, and will house an innovation and research working group that brings together industry leaders and academic partners, including University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Ryerson University, York University, Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Honeywell, UTC Aerospace Systems, MDA Corporation and Sumitomo Precision Products Canada Aircraft, Inc.

Centennial College currently trains about 300 aircraft technicians and avionics technicians annually at its Ashtonbee Campus hangar in Scarborough. The move to Downsview will provide a much larger teaching space with access to working runways.

The college expects the program’s enrolment is expected to grow to more than 900 students.

In his 2012 review of the Canadian aerospace industry, David Emerson identified a need for an aerospace training and research hub in Ontario to maintain Canada’s fifth-place ranking in the industry. Globalization, competition from emerging economies and a diminishing skilled workforce are looming challenges. There are also opportunities, amounting to $3.2 trillion in new commercial aircraft and $661 billion in business aircraft that will be ordered over the next 20 years worldwide as operators look for more efficient and environmentally sustainable aircraft to update their fleets.

The Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and Research (DAIR), which involves a number of Ontario institutions and aerospace technology firms, has a plan to recast the former military airbase as a global aerospace hub that would function as an innovation incubator and attract new investment.