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Ontario Aerospace Council surges in the competitive market

Paris. For anyone who has seen Mexico lately will not find this surprising – technicians overhauling commercial aircraft engines and landing gears, engineers assembling fuselages and major clusters of aerospace companies all along the US border. It may only be a matter of time before Mexico designs its own aircraft.

The story is the same in Ontario, Canada where industrialists and businessmen are increasingly venturing in aerospace with full support from the government.

The Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC) and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, International Trade Branch together showcased the Ontario aerospace industry at Le Bourget. Aerospace is a growth market and a significant contributor to Canadian and global economies.

Representing a diversified and technology-intensive industry, OAC continues to identify new markets and customer bases for its companies. It is promoting companies under its umbrella to help develop and manufacture commercial, business and light aircraft, engines, landing gears and structural components. Other specialties include flight simulators, electronic systems, space robotics and satellites.

Rod Jones, Executive Director of Canada’s Ontario Aerospace Council, reiterated that Ontario’s aerospace sector, despite competition from both within Canada and abroad, is proud of its companies which are good players on a global stage. Jones informed that Ontario, despite lacking the big OEMs of Quebec-based CAE, Bombardier and Bell, has an enviable list of aerospace suppliers.

Generating revenues of approximately $6.4 billion of which more than 70 per cent is exported, Ontario aerospace industry is made up of more than 350 firms employing over 22,000 people, many of whom are highly qualified engineers, technicians and scientists.

OAC brings together more than 200 Ontario aerospace companies comprising approximately 75 per cent of the total Ontario aerospace industry employment. Ontario aerospace OEMs and Tier 1 Systems Integrators, supported by strong supplier clusters, have market-leading positions in several product and service niches, including regional turboprop aircraft integration, business jet aircraft integration, general aviation aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles & systems, small and medium turbine engines, landing gear systems and more.

Made-in-Ontario components are involved in more than 100 aerospace programmes in countries around the world. The Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and the US-led Joint Strike Fighter all include products manufactured in Ontario by companies such as Goodrich Landing Gear, Messier-Dowty, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Magellan Aerospace.

Companies like Goodrich are known as ‘systems integrators’, designing and supplying their customers with systems built to functional requirements rather than detailed specifications. The supply chain has more links than in the past, and those links are often widely dispersed geographically.

“Our mission is focused on facilitating work by the industry in six key areas which are to assertively evolve strategies for our industry. These are carrying out strategic initiatives in market opportunities, technology development and commercialisation, supply network performance, workplace knowledge and skills, and access to financing, working with small and medium sized enterprises to meet their particular business requirements, building stronger recognition for Ontario’s aerospace industry by provincial and national governments and guiding the provincial government on aerospace issues and priorities to enhance the market profile of the Ontario aerospace industry in global aerospace,” Jones explained.

Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies, Ryerson University’s Institute for Aerospace Design and Innovation (RIADI) and the universities of Waterloo, Ottawa, McMaster, Queen’s, and Carleton are all working closely with industry partners on cutting-edge projects. They are creating next generation materials and technologies that can meet or exceed the most stringent environmental standards.

Supply of skilled labour is crucial to Ontario’s continued success in aerospace.

To gauge future needs, the OAC is completing a labour market assessment with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Shortages in availability of labour may also arise among various types of manufacturing trades and technicians.

The Ontario Aerospace Council has focused its continuing education curriculum on these people, who will often have a sound technical background but require management training. People gaps, competency gaps and capacity gaps are likely to persist, but can be managed with concerted effort. That’s what it aims at.

© India Strategic