October 2, 2007 By Ken Pole
Despite the ongoing turmoil in much of the industry, the message
delivered at the latest annual meeting of the Aerospace Industries
Association of Canada (AIAC) was generally optimistic. The theme for
this year's meeting was ‘Seizing Opportunity in Turbulent Times'. AIAC
vice-president Peter Boag noted that downturns in a historically
cyclical industry are usually followed by periods of sustained growth.
"The real challenge for our industry and for government policy makers
is to respond effectively," he said.
John R. Murphey, president/CEO of Bell Helicopter Textron, spoke for
many when he described 2001 as "pretty grim" for his company. "I don't
recall a time in my 40 years (when) there has been an across-the-board
worldwide decline." He said that fundamental uncertainty rooted in
geopolitics and economics was aggravated by a climate of distrust
because of the way some companies outside of aerospace have been
"cooking their books." The result was a "significant hit on corporate
profits," which he said had fallen back to 1994 levels. Bell and other
companies with high-capital products were clearly hurting because
potential buyers were putting off acquisitions, Murphey added. Sales
and deliveries of large aircraft over the last two years were down by
50% and 35% respectively; the industry has a lot of catching up to do.