Montreal aerospace OEM scheme set to get bigger

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A scheme to help smaller Canadian aerospace suppliers improve their competitiveness hopes to win funding from Canada's federal government, two years on after its launch.

Called the MACH initiative, the five-year scheme rolled out in 2011 with financial backing from the Quebec provincial government and the suppliers enrolled in the C$15 million ($14.5 million) programme. Over the five years, 70 small and medium aerospace suppliers are expected to complete the programme.

Under MACH, these suppliers are paired with bigger OEMs like Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney Canada, who then act as mentors for the smaller companies and advise them on everything from human resources to production. The bigger OEMs must be a client of the smaller companies, who supply to them. The smaller suppliers are audited every year to determine how they have progressed, and then graded on a five-level scale, with MACH 1 being the lowest and MACH 5 the best. Every time a company moves up a grade, it receives financial subsidies.

"We are in the process of the federal government evaluating MACH," says Suzanne Benoit, the president of Aero Montreal, a think tank that runs the MACH initiative.

If the federal government decides to fund MACH, it would likely match the funds invested by the Quebec provincial government, Benoit tells Flightglobal on the sidelines of the ICAO 38th general assembly in Montreal. MACH was cited as "the most advanced" aerospace supplier development initiative in a Canadian government-mandated report published in late 2012 as part of an overall review of the country's aerospace sector.

Thirty smaller companies are being mentored under MACH, with another 11 due to join later this year, says Benoit. When MACH started, it was with the aim to help smaller Canadian aerospace suppliers become better and to compeete more effectively for work on aircraft programmes. Major OEMs like Boeing and Airbus usually prefer dealing with tier one suppliers, which then sub-contract the work out to smaller companies. MACH ensures that these smaller companies' business practices meet the standards of the tier one suppliers in order to win their business, says Benoit.

Aero Montreal now hopes to introduce MACH globally, and duplicate the scheme in other cities in the hope of establishing it as a common standard worldwide. Benoit says the think tank has signed a deal with Mexico to explore rolling out a similar initiative there, and is also in talks with authorities in Belgium. Aerospace manufacturers in Seattle have also expressed interest, says Benoit.