August 12, 2012
Brian Morton of the Vancouver Sun updates on BC’s aerospace industry and its military and civilian work. Here is what he writes:
British Columbia’s aerospace industry, which has seen considerable growth over the past 10 years, could see even sharper growth in the coming decade.
But stakeholders – who gathered on the eve of the annual air show in Abbotsford this week at both a major trade show and a separate show-case to promote their industry – say several factors could determine the extent of that growth, particularly the need for ramped-up research and development, a greater commitment to industry training, and increased productivity.
Other factors considered critical to the province’s aerospace future include the federal government’s commitment to its politically controversial decision to purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets, and the ability of local companies to continue homing in on specific niches that complement the high-growth global aerospace industry.
Friday’s Aerospace Showcase, hosted by Abbotsford-based industry giant Cascade Aerospace, the city of Abbotsford and Abbotsford Inter-national Airport (YXX), saw several announcements, including Victoria’s Viking Air’s expansion into the China market with the sale of five new Twin Otters to Meiya Air of Hainan Province; Cascade becoming one of only two Lockheed-Martin C-130 heavy maintenance centres in the world; and Delta’s Avcorp Industries Ltd.’s award from Boeing Defence and Security of a development contract for a new Rud-devator design for the U.S. air force’s KC-135 air-to-air refuelling aircraft program.
“[Research and development] is key to moving forward,” said Cascade CEO and Aerospace Industries Association of Canada chair David Schellenberg, who noted that B.C. is well located to capitalize on its proximity to Boeing and Washington state’s strong aero-space industry. “We need to continue investing in new technologies. And finding a niche, or developing a niche, is absolutely critical to advancing on the international stage.”
Schellenberg, whose company also participated in this week’s trade show at YXX, called 2012 Abbotsford Aerospace and Defence Expo, should know.
“We’ve developed a niche in providing full life cycle support for [Lock-heed Martin’s] Hercules C-130,” said Schellenberg of Cascade, one of North America’s leading aerospace and defence contractors, which provides integrated aircraft support services to military, commercial, government and aircraft manufacturing customers including Lockheed Martin and Bombardier.
“There are 2,300 Hercules flying in the world. It’s allowed us to develop our capability [on Canada’s fleet] and export our capability and knowledge on that fleet worldwide.”
Cascade Aerospace, with 700 employees, is one of 60 member companies in the Aerospace Industry Association of B.C., which employs about 10,000 skilled workers through-out the province.
B.C.’s aerospace industry – which not only manufactures aircraft but makes aircraft parts and components, provides aircraft maintenance and repair services, and supplies aircraft engines and parts, simulators and avionic systems, as well as hardware and software for space-related activities – had 2011 sales revenues of $1.25 billion…..