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On Final: Reflecting on a successful 2013

It was a little over a year ago that the Honourable David Emerson provided the government with 25 recommendations on ways in which federal programs and policies could better promote the competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace and space industries.


January 10, 2014
By Jim Quick

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It was a little over a year ago that the Honourable David Emerson provided the government with 25 recommendations on ways in which federal programs and policies could better promote the competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace and space industries. In that time, a great deal of progress has been made and the future of Canadian aerospace companies remains bright – but only if government and industry continue to put their collective shoulders into ensuring that those recommendations become reality.

Aerospace Industries Association of Canada  
Despite the success we have enjoyed to this point, our work is far from over. Photo: AIAC


 

The 2013 federal budget contained several measures in response to the Emerson report that have important implications for the aerospace industry. The Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI), a program used by many companies to help fund R&D projects through repayable contributions, was recapitalized at $1 billion over five years. The government also committed to the creation of a new $110-million Technology Demonstration Program, which was launched in September by Industry Minister James Moore. In addition, the budget contained new initiatives that would see the creation of a national supply chain program as well as a national research and technology collaboration network. These initiatives directly support our industry’s capacity to develop the innovative products that keep us at the forefront of the global industry.

We are also seeing important progress when it comes to leveraging the government’s military procurements. In February 2013, Tom Jenkins, who serves as special advisor to the Minister of Public Works, produced a report recommending fundamental changes to the way the government conducts military procurements in order to better leverage and encourage Canadian key industrial capabilities. The reform of the procurement process in response to the Jenkins report has begun. Government is listening – and, we believe, committed to increasing the impact that military investments have on domestic jobs and capabilities in Canada’s aerospace and defence industries. Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, reiterated these points at the AIAC’s Canadian Aerospace Summit in October 2013.

Our momentum is not limited to aerospace. The Emerson report on space is spurring a reinvigorated approach to Canada’s space programs and policies both within the CSA, which welcomed new president Walt Natynczyk in August, and from government as a whole. At the beginning of December, Minister Moore announced the government’s response to the Emerson report on space, which includes funding for space-related technology research; a commitment to align space procurements with the Jenkins report; ongoing efforts to support the industry’s market access and skills development needs; and increased focus on driving opportunities for space-related commercial activity. A significant additional component of the government’s response was the establishment of a high-level space-related advisory board that will include industry leaders as well as the establishment of a space program management board to coordinate federal space activities.

As we turn the page to a new calendar year, however, it is with the recognition that despite the success we have enjoyed to this point, our work is far from over. When it comes to the Emerson and Jenkins reports, there are recommendations that must still be implemented if we are to retain the competitive edge that will be the cornerstone of our success. For example, a cohesive, pan-Canadian approach to training and upskilling our workers is urgently needed to maintain a workforce capable of creating and delivering the cutting-edge products of the future.

In the area of civil aviation regulations, we are seeking from Transport Canada effective cost-recovery measures that will help provide resources that will be directed to aircraft certification services, thus strengthening the aircraft certification process. In addition, the process of defining concrete priorities for Canada’s space program must continue, and these priorities must be shared with industry as early as possible so that our space companies can align their business plans accordingly.

At the heart of success in the aerospace and space industries lies a commitment to collaboration. Whether it is between
suppliers and OEMs, researchers and companies, or government and industry, Canadian aerospace owes much of its success to its ability to find collaborative solutions that produce world-class results. As our industry enters a time of increased global demand, opportunity and competition, we must do so strategically and with a unified vision.

Although 2013 was a great year for Canadian aerospace, we are only at the beginning of realizing what we can achieve. As we look ahead to 2014 and beyond, our commitment to collaboratively maintaining the momentum that we have worked so hard to achieve will be the key to making our hopes a reality.


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