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On Final: Accelerating capacity


November 5, 2014
By Jim Quick
“To capture the vital opportunities that are on the horizon

Over the past few years, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) and its members have focused their efforts on a series of recommendations drawn from the Emerson and Jenkins reports. They provide the industry and governments with a clear roadmap that, when fully implemented, will lay the foundation for the industry’s long-term competitiveness in Canada and around the world.

We have seen important progress on many fronts. This includes new initiatives to support collaborative R&D, the creation of a technology demonstrator program, support for companies doing business overseas thanks to the Global Markets Action Plan, and the introduction of the Defence Procurement Strategy which fundamentally changes the way the federal government conducts military procurements to better leverage and encourage Canadian key industrial capabilities. These steps have demonstrated the government’s commitment and vision in supporting our industry’s efforts to remain competitive globally in the years
to come.

Even as we work towards the implementation of the final recommendations, we must also turn our attention to our next challenge – that of creating a new vision for our industry that strategically
addresses the acceleration of growth and capacity within small and medium-sized (SME) aerospace companies. We are already seeing a shift from measuring our success in terms of revenues generated or people employed towards examining our industry’s contribution to GDP and to the economy.

With this perspective in mind, and to continue delivering benefits to the Canadian economy, we need to nurture our SME aerospace companies and find ways to help them move up the value chain more quickly than they have in the past. To capture the vital opportunities that are on the horizon, these companies must possess the requisite capacity to address demand – and they must possess it soon.

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The challenges facing SMEs are inherently linked to their size, which limits the speed with which they can respond to demand and expand their product and service offerings. Increasing the capacity of small- and medium-sized suppliers in these areas is critical, allowing them to be part of a robust and international supply chain.  In order to grow, SMEs must be able to count on an effective and supportive environment both in terms of financing and business opportunities.

Together with the government, we need to identify and implement solutions that will help smaller Canadian aerospace companies increase the speed at which they can expand their capacity and reach so they can actively participate in the many opportunities that the global marketplace has to offer. The implementation of the Emerson and Jenkins reports has given our industry effective tools and programs. We must now make sure that all of our companies are in a position to best leverage these new initiatives for their own benefits and the overall success of our industry.

From an advocacy perspective, this means working with government to ensure that all of the various programs and policies that are in place help aerospace companies integrate and compete well together, and that they are supporting the same goals and objectives rather than acting in isolation. Through the AIAC, the industry needs to provide feedback to government regarding how all of the tools they are providing can best work together.

Within the industry, this will require clear communication from the large OEMs and Tier 1s to their supply chains regarding future needs and what will be required to compete. Already this year, we have taken steps to foster increased dialogue and collaboration between small and large businesses through events such as our Small Business Forum. We must continue to support policies and initiatives that provide for better networking and an ongoing dialogue.

Our future success hinges on this commitment to such collaboration. Whether it is between suppliers and OEMs, research centres, universities and companies, or government and industry, Canadian aerospace’s sustained growth depends on its ability to find collaborative solutions and deliver world-class products and services – and to do it faster and more efficiently than we ever have before. As our industry enters a period of increased global demand, emerging opportunities and intensifying competition, we must come together with a unified vision and call to action for the benefit of all Canadians. I am confident that we are all up to the challenges and that the best is yet to come.


Jim Quick is the president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries of Canada (AIAC)