National presence key to Canadian aerospace dominance

Two contracts announced today reflect the strength of Canada’s aerospace industry despite its need to expand nationally

February 8, 2011   by Matt Powell

LONGUEUIL, Que.‑Héroux-Devtek Inc.’s aerostructure product line has been awarded a seven-year contract by Bombardier Aerospace.

Héroux-Devtek will manufacture more than 300 structural components for Bombardier’s entire portfolio of commercial and business aircraft in a deal worth about $175‑million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Héroux-Devtek will fabricate, assemble and deliver wing spars, wing ribs, fuselage frames and other complex structural components.

“The relationship and resulting business with Bombardier have enabled Héroux-Devtek to make significant investments in state-of-the-art machining technology, improving both the manufacturing performance and capability of the Dorval facility,” said Rick Rosenjack, vice-president and general manager of Héroux-Devtek’s Aerostructure Division.

In Toronto, Airbus has awarded a contract for Magellan Aerospace Corp. to supply detail components for the A350 XWB passenger jets in a deal worth about US$20 million over 10 years.

Magellan is a Toronto-based aerospace manufacturer that designs, engineers and manufactures aeroengine and aerostructure assemblies and components for the aerospace, military and space markets.

Magellan said the work will be done by its U.K. subsidiary in Bournemouth, England.

The contract will require machining and treatment of complex aluminum lithium detail components and delivery to the final assembly line in Toulouse, France.

“This package, together with Magellan’s existing A350 XWB work on the centre wing box and the pylon secondary structure, augments Magellan’s position on this exciting new program,” said Jim Butyniec, Magellan’s president and chief executive.

Airbus’s newest generation of jets will be manufactured with advanced materials, including the A350 XWB which can seat between 250 and 300 passengers.

Aircraft component manufacturers such as Héroux-Devtek and Magellan make up roughly half of the $22‑billion Canadian aerospace industry.

While almost half the aerospace industry is in Quebec, the Aerospace Industry Association (AIAC) of Canada says developing capacity nationally will be key to the its future.

“We’re proud of our industry in Quebec, but we need expand nationally,” said Maryse Harvey, vice‑president of public affairs at AIAC. “As developed and emerging countries continue investment in aerospace, Canada needs to expand its industry to remain a leader in the global aerospace industry.”

Canada’s aerospace industry is the fifth largest in the world and depends significantly on exports, which are worth about $17 billion to the Canadian economy. The market in Canada is expected to grow by five per cent annually over the next twenty years, according to the AIAC.

Harvey says added investment in research and development and technology will help develop the industry nationwide. It will also be necessary to ensure there is enough manpower in the coming years to keep the industry a global leader.

Domestic competition is not an issue with the Canadian industry because the majority of companies here specialize in different areas of aerospace manufacturing.

“Competition comes from outside Canada,” says Harvey. “Building aircrafts is such a complex process, that Canadian companies have been able to specialize in every area of the manufacturing process. Domestic competition really isn’t a huge issue.”

She added it will be necessary for the industry to continue working together to stay ahead of foreign developments.

Increased government investment will also play a role in developing the national industry as aerospace technology evolves and aircrafts are built on new platforms.

In 2007, the Canadian government announced the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI). It was developed to support industrial research and pre-competitive development for Canadian aerospace projects. The initiative was intended to encourage increased national aerospace innovation.

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