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All eyes on Toronto aerospace cluster: Emerson report

Nov. 29, 2012, Toronto - Contained in the Aerospace Review report released today by Hon. David Emerson is a proposal to establish an aerospace cluster in southern Ontario to operate in tandem with the existing cluster in Montréal, forming a vital technology corridor to enhance the capabilities of both centres.


November 29, 2012
By Carey Fredericks

A public-private partnership has formed to promote the establishment of such a cluster at federally owned Downsview Park in Toronto, adjacent to the existing aircraft assembly facility operated by Bombardier Inc. The Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and Research (DAIR), which involves Ontario's very best educational institutions and aerospace technology leaders, has an ambitious plan to recast the former military airbase as a global aerospace hub that would function as an innovation incubator and attract considerable investment.

The cluster is central to meeting challenges to Canada's fifth-place global ranking as an aerospace technology provider. One of the constraints to industry growth is an aging workforce and resulting skilled-labour shortage. The partners are motivated to develop new technologies through research and innovation, aid in workforce training and skills development, and participate in supply-chain development geared to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Already, Bombardier has selected Centennial College as its trainer of choice, helping to prepare its existing and future workforce with new skills required in the assembly and maintenance of its aircraft.

Founding cluster partners Bombardier, Centennial College and the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies are looking to grow the group. Interest has been expressed by aerospace industry leaders including Pratt & Whitney Canada, SPP Canada Aircraft, Messier-Dowty, Honeywell and UTC Aerospace Systems. Additional academic partners, including Ryerson and York universities, will collaborate on an innovation research centre at Downsview, deemed essential to an industry poised to grow rapidly through 2030.

The City of Toronto has passed a resolution in support of the proposed Downsview cluster and there are positive indications of support from the Ontario government. The Downsview aerospace cluster is expected to draw other major partners from the public and private sectors, including universities, manufacturers, and research and development agencies. DAIR would like to thank Industry Canada for funding the important and timely Aerospace Review.