The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of the economy and aerospace is no exception. In the leadup to the global pandemic, B.C.’s aerospace sector was well positioned for growth. Between 2012 and 2017, B.C. increased its aerospace manufacturing exports by 57% and diversified its exports outside of North America.
The onset of COVID-19 dramatically changed a bright outlook for trade and investment and introduced a series of challenges for aerospace companies to navigate. Major aerospace manufacturers are slowing and, in some cases, halting production. There has also been a steep decrease in commercial air travel which has led to a drop-in demand for aerospace products and services. A recent membership survey conducted by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada
indicates Canadian companies are anticipating a 40 percent decrease in revenue in 2020.
In Canada, governments have been working to help companies continue operations as well as safely restart parts of the economy amidst what the Conference Board of Canada
has called the deepest and shortest recession on record. Companies are working to adjust to COVID-19 workplace challenges and keep supply chains operating.
Economic Response Plan
There is no precedent to inform governments and guide industries in the aftermath of COVID-19. All economies and sectors will need to adapt their strategies to be resilient as events unfold during the restart.
British Columbia’s $5 billion COVID-19 Action Plan has brought immediate relief measures to B.C. businesses while helping to ensure B.C.’s economy is best positioned to quickly return to strength after this crisis. The Government of Canada mobilized support for businesses through its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan and the Canada Emergency Business Account. Canadian aerospace companies have had access to federal government emergency response benefits, credit programs, commercial rent assistance and wage subsidy programs.
B.C.’s Safe Economic Restart
In response to COVID-19, British Columbia has followed the orders, guidance and safety precautions provided by Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. has remained a reliable supplier of export products and a secure place to invest. British Columbians are working together to keep our communities safe and healthy. The BC Restart Plan is uniquely ours and takes a phased approach to reopening. This approach allows sectors and activities within the phases to open when the evidence and data tells public health officials the time is right, and as protocols and guidance are in place for them to do so safely. As of July 31, 2020 British Columbia was in Phase 3 of its four-phase restart plan and there is a commitment to remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 and to work together for a safe economic restart and re-ignite sectors to create a brighter future.
B.C. Aerospace Sector’s Competitive Advantage
With a proven reputation for quality and reliability, B.C.’s aerospace sector boasts a deep pool of highly skilled, multilingual talent, and support from a network of world-class educational institutions. B.C. is a leading centre for aerospace innovation; its globally competitive aerospace companies are recognized for delivering highly specialized products and services.
British Columbia’s aerospace sector has a supportive government, strong international networks, a skilled workforce and an established history of embracing new technologies.
Trade Support for B.C.’s Aerospace Sector
Targeted investments and strategic collaboration between the federal and provincial governments and sector associations have built a globally competitive supply chain in B.C. Canada has numerous reciprocal trade agreements with countries around the world that support the aerospace sector.
Aerospace Education, Training and Simulation
British Columbia provides a wide range of services to emerging aerospace markets with companies offering training for pilots, air traffic control, airport operations, floatplane operations and aircraft maintenance. The province has some of the best colleges and universities and a high standard of education that produce talent in engineering, design and other related fields.
Diffusion of Technology
Technology drives success in the aerospace sector. B.C.’s focused support for technology and innovation has enhanced B.C.’s aerospace manufacturing productivity and competitive advantages. The province is home to a wealth of diverse expertise in remote-sensing, satellite communications, complex robotics, 3-D simulation technology and advanced aerospace systems and sub-systems.
Climate Change and the Ambitious Journey to Electric Airspace
Sustainability is vital for global economic growth, trade and commerce, and British Columbia is at the forefront of tackling climate change concerns in the aviation industry. There is increasing research and development of green technologies to improve fuel burn and air quality, lower CO2 emissions and noise, and create sustainable aviation fuels and new aircraft technology.
B.C.-based Harbour Air Seaplanes, North America’s largest and first carbon neutral seaplane airline, has big plans for an all-electric airline. In December 2019, a new battery design made it possible for Harbour Air to make the world’s first commercial electric airplane test flight. The modified DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver made its successful and historic three-minute flight above Richmond B.C. with an electric motor designed by magniX of Seattle. Battery technology may have a way to go before it can meet aerospace sector requirements, but numerous companies, including Boeing and Airbus, are engineering designs.
Snapshot of the British Columbia Aerospace Sector
B.C.’s aerospace sector includes two overarching sectors: maintenance, repair overhaul in–service support (MRO-ISS) and aerospace manufacturing.
B.C. has some of the largest and most capable MRO-ISS sector firms in Canada. Companies include MTU Maintenance Canada
, a member of the MTU Maintenance Network which provides commercial engine maintenance services worldwide; Cascade Aerospace Inc
., one of the two authorized Lockheed Martin C-130j Heavy Maintenance Centers in the world; KF Aerospace
, WestJet’s structural maintenance contractor; and Heli-One
, a global leader in helicopter maintenance services.
Many of B.C.’s aerospace manufacturers are small to medium sized firms that act in a supply chain function, producing products and components of varying complexity and scale for original equipment manufacturers (OEM). The province is home to airframe structure manufacturer Avcorp
, as well as OEM Viking Air
, manufacturer of Series 400 and Guardian 400 Twin Otter aircraft. B.C.'s manufacturing base is complemented by large firms pioneering research and development in aerospace composite materials and structures and leading-edge design and manufacturing, serving major aircraft carriers such as Bombardier, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Learn more about the leading aerospace companies and services available in the province from our brochure
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