Ian Verchere

Quebec's expanding role within the global aerospace sector will be enhanced at Farnborough 2000 with its largest-ever presence at an international air show. As part of this drive, Bernard Landry, the province's deputy premier and economics minister, will arrive in London to head a powerful delegation of 25 Quebec-based companies and key government agencies. With annual sales exceeding $8 billion, Quebec now claims to be the world's sixth largest aerospace economy after the USA, France, the UK, Germany and Japan. Between 1988-99, the export of aerospace products increased by 364%. With 70% of all output earmarked for export, says Landry, aerospace has become one of the linchpins of Quebec's economic and industrial renaissance. "Farnborough 2000 will be the biggest aerospace drive we have ever made and our presence here in such numbers underlines the importance of this sector to the Quebec economy," he says. It is part of an ongoing campaign aimed at stimulating inward investment, promoting the region's increasing popularity for aerospace manufacturers and seeking new business partnerships. Backing these private sector companies will be Quebec's powerful Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC), Investment Quebec (IQ) - the province's inward investment body - Montreal International and the Mirabel international commercial zone. Several experts from the aeronautics and financial sectors will also be present to maximise business leads. Under the slogan "An exceptional concentration of world leaders," the region's stand highlights industry critical mass and data, skilled workforce and educational information, generous research and development tax arrangements, competitive economic environment and "Quebec's favourable gateway into North America".

The Quebec aerospace industry currently employs 40,000 people which accounts for more than half the entire Canadian sector. Over the past five years, aerospace sales have risen by over 50% and employment by 21%.The strength of the Quebec aerospace industry, explains Landry, is based on the presence of several world-class principal contractors and equipment manufacturers. Long-established names include Pratt & Whitney Canada (since 1928), Marconi Canada (1903), Rolls-Royce (1952) and Bombardier Aeronautics (1923). Recent arrivals have included General Electric (1981), Lockheed Martin Canada (1982), Bell Helicopter Textron (1984), Messier Dowty (1990), Sextant Avionique (1996) and Thomson-CSF (1999).


"Many of these companies are world leaders by virtue of their Quebec-made products," says IQ spokesman Josephine Beland. "They include Bombardier for regional and corporate jets, Bell Helicopter for commercial helicopters, CAE Electronics for flight simulators, and Pratt & Whitney Canada for regional and corporate airplane helicopter engines."

With regional expertise that now includes avionics, landing gears, systems integration, space systems and final assembly, Quebec today ranks itself alongside international aerospace centres such as Seattle, Toulouse and Wichita. "These leading companies rely on a group of over 240 small and medium-sized businesses that serve as subcontractors and product suppliers covering the entire spectrum of specialities required to assemble an aircraft," she explains. "They include machining of parts, sophisticated software, surface treatment, composite materials, shot blasting, fast prototyping, hydraulics, avionics and electro-optics."


All these large corporations and many of the smaller businesses carry ISO 9000 certification giving 90% of the sector's output international quality standards. In addition, 10% of Quebec aerospace's revenue is channelled back into R&D which "allows the industry to remain at the cutting edge of technology", says Beland. The presence of large international aviation organisations in Montreal such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) adds to this critical mass.

Source: Flight Daily News