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On Final: Turning over a new leaf

Efficiency and growth have long been key drivers of success for the Canadian aerospace industry.

July 10, 2012  By Jim Quick

Efficiency and growth have long been key drivers of success for the Canadian aerospace industry. Technology advancements and innovation are creating new and exciting opportunities for Canadian aerospace and must remain at the core of our industry’s aspirations and vision. A third element, however, has emerged and, I believe, is here to stay.  Environmental sustainability has become critically intertwined in our technology development and our drive for greater efficiency and growth.

Environmental sustainability has become critically intertwined in our technology development and our drive for growth. Photo: AIAC


Climate change is a global challenge, and responding to it is a global responsibility. No one country, industry or company can tackle this enormous challenge alone. Aviation’s contribution to global carbon dioxide (C02) emissions is two per cent, and is three per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. With the anticipated increase in air travel, these numbers are expected to increase to three and five per cent respectively by 2050, even when emissions reductions and greater fuel efficiency are factored in.

Canada has an opportunity to take a leadership role on the global stage when it comes to the development of green aerospace technologies. For our manufacturing, research and development sectors in particular, we must continue to build on our strengths and cement our reputation as an industry that is on the leading edge of the technology development that is driving product and environmental sustainability.


Several important steps have already been taken to create such an environment. The Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN) was created in 2009 with a mandate to work with industry, researchers and the government to promote and foster the development of aerospace technologies that are protective of the environment. Add to that the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada’s support for Canada’s Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation and it is clear our commitment to developing more efficient and environmental sustainable technologies is strong.

The program and policy review that was announced by the government earlier this year also has important implications for green technology in Canada. As part of the review process, AIAC and its members are currently involved in working groups, including one specifically devoted to technology development, demonstration and commercialization.

Together, industry, government, academia and other stakeholders are developing recommendations with the objective of ensuring our industry’s global long-term competitiveness, which invariably implies the continued development of more eco-friendly technologies. It is our hope that the collaboration and mutual effort that is going into this process provides not only a valuable assessment of the opportunities and challenges facing the industry in this area, but also a road map for the kind of future partnerships that will be necessary to maintain our position of leadership in a competitive global market.

As we look forward, three conditions will be critical to Canada’s continued ability to lead the world in developing efficient, environmentally sustainable technologies. First, we must continue to foster active, engaged co-operation between industry and its stakeholders. We have accomplished much in this area, and GARDN is a great example.

Second, the aerospace industry’s partnership with the government, particularly in the area of R&D, will be vital to industry’s capacity to develop sustainable, efficient technologies. The government has recognized the strategic importance of the aerospace industry to the Canadian economy through its announcement of the Aerospace Review. As technologies develop and global markets open, new opportunities will emerge – and strengthening the relationship between industry and government will provide immense rewards for all Canadians. 

Finally, we must continue to attract, train and invest in the world’s best aerospace minds. A Canadian strength is an educational system that develops world-leading skill and innovation; however, we cannot take this for granted. Growing Canada’s reputation of excellence in the research and development of green aerospace technologies will require a strong commitment among all parties to creating an environment that attracts investment and opportunity.

The Canadian aerospace industry has a history of significant accomplishment. Through the work that we are doing with GARDN and others we have an opportunity to build on that reputation and success. With a cohesive, united vision for the future and a spirit of collaboration, Canada’s aerospace industry can continue to lead the globe in technology efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Jim Quick is the president/CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada.


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