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April 17, 2024
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It is not commonly known that Montreal, Quebec is the world’s third largest commercial aerospace hub after Toulouse and Seattle.  The names of companies based in the Montreal region are obviously Bombardier, but also CAE, Bell Helicopter, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Liebherr among others.

This week Aero Montreal is hosting an event to showcase the region’s impressive aerospace industry.  A look at the group’s leadership is evidence of the deep industry connections within the region.  The location of so much of the industry within the Montreal region serves to boost many other aspects of the community – for example the industry creates a strong demand for skilled workers that require cutting edge education.  This ranges from exotic materials and additive manufacturing to exploring new innovations.

Today we attended a session titled “The Future of Flying: Electric Aircraft and Aerostructures”.  The panelists included people Liebherr, Airbus Group and LTA Aerostructures.  Airbus’s spokesman described their work on E-Fan.  For those who have attended the big airshows, you will have seen (but not hear) the littlest Airbus.  The technologies Airbus is developing by undertaking this project are not a marketing gimmick.

As we have seen, Airbus is collaborating with Siemens on a hybrid drive propulsion system for aircraft up to 100 seats.  By learning what is possible, given the current state of art in terms of batteries, for example, Airbus is creating valuable IP.   The speaker from Liebherr was equally interesting – focusing on how future aircraft will be requiring fewer hydraulics, with zero hydraulics being the goal.   We also heard from LTA Aerostructures.  This company has a vision of how it will be able to deliver cargo across the vast Canadian hinterland all year, regardless of seasons because it will be developing airships.

Although Airbus is not located in the Montreal region, its work serves to underscore and indeed validate the work being done at Liebherr and LTA.  And none of this would have been so apparent were it not for the event being hosted by Aero Montreal.  Canada has an impressive history in aviation, driven by its huge size and relatively small population.  Canadian ingenuity in commercial aviation is pretty amazing as this short history through 2000 lists.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Aero Montreal has organized visits to some of these impressive Canadian firms.  One is Heroux-Devtek.  A name that few associate with big aerospace news perhaps. But the firm developed and built the NASA Apollo Lunar Module’s landing gear in 1969.  The aerospace industry has deep roots in Montreal, and they are flourishing.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

1 thought on “Aero Montreal

  1. We must not forget the education system in the area. There are four world-class universities based in Montréal, each one offering various aviation specialties that are sometimes hard to come by elsewhere. There is also a CÉGEP nearby that delivers college degrees for aeronautical technicians. It is the largest such school in North America and they have been supplying high quality manpower for decades to such companies as Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney. There is also a high school dedicated to continuous aerospace education which offers tailored courses for various companies working in the industry. People come from allover the world to study in Montréal. They return home with pilot certifications, aeronautical engineering degrees, airport management diplomas, air and space law degrees, etc. Important international organizations like ICAO and IATA are headquartered in Montréal. The Canadian Space Agency is also based in Montréal. Montrealers like to boast that an entire aircraft, or helicopter, can be assembled in Montréal using only parts and components made in the area: engines, airframes, landing gears, avionics, etc. And those companies all work together and participate in regular forums, while at the same time collaborating on various research programmes. When we put all this together Montréal easily qualifies as the international capital of aviation.

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