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.