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Thales investing in fly-by-wire

Jan. 13, 2011, Montreal - Thales Canada is investing up to $43 million to develop new fly-by-wire systems for business and commercial aircraft — with the help of a government loan.


January 13, 2011
By The Canadian Press

The Montreal-based subsidiary of the French electronics company Thales SA will spend the money to develop the next-generation digital systems that control aircraft flight.

The goals include development of lighter systems that reduce fuel consumption or allow planes to fly further, focusing on commercial aircraft with 70 to 140 seats, and mid- to large-size business planes.

"These funds will stimulate our technology, our innovation and improve flight operations for OEMs here in Canada and around the world,'' CEO Paul Kahn said at an event at its headquarters on the outskirts of Montreal.

He said its centre of excellent for business and regional aircraft is located in Montreal to support Bombardier as an important customer.

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"This is technology which we hope to sell to Bombardier,'' he added.

Thales new products will be used on Bombardier's Learjet 85, as well as the Gulfstream G650, which are both under development.

Ottawa is providing a $12.9-million loan through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative.

Industry Minister Tony Clement said the federal contribution is consistent with the government's efforts to develop highly skilled talent and to advance high-tech research and development in the aerospace and defence sector.

Canadian public investment in R&D is the highest in the G7, he said.

The funding is part of $781 million that have been allocated on 21 projects since the federal initiative was launched in 2007. Private sector contributions have exceeded $1.7 billion.

Terms of the loan meet Canada's obligations under NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, Clement said, noting that the funding is included in the 2010 federal budget.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scheduled to attends events Friday at landing gear maker Heroux-Devtek and Bell Helicopter. He will also make a funding announcement at Bell Helicopter's facility in Mirabel, north of Montreal.

The Thales project will include research and development in collaboration with Quebec's Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace. That includes the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, which will provide work experience for up to 90 undergraduate students.

Thales Canada has 1,400 employees in Montreal, Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Its sales were $540 million in 2009.