Aerospace industry and Bell urge a ‘Buy for Canada’ strategy
By Naomi Szeben
Canada’s aerospace sector faces unprecedented challenges and the country’s position as the fifth largest aerospace industry on the planet is slipping. Industry thought leaders are calling for support and a strategy.
This year, Bell celebrates its 35th year of building helicopters in Canada, and makes a plea for industry leaders to step up. Bell has a long and rich history building helicopters in Canada, for both Canadian and global customers.
Producing more than 5,200 helicopters in Quebec, Bell in Canada plays a key role in the country’s economy. Socioeconomic research company founder and CEO Nicole Verkindt of OMX states Bell Textron Canada contributes $848 million a year to the country’s GDP, sustaining 6,243 jobs across the country.
“Aerospace manufacturing in Canada Aerospace contributes 28 billion dollars annually to the national economy,” states Jim Quick, former President and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC). As for one thing that could benefit the challenged industry, Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, states, “Bell needs what every current aerospace company needs, a stronger partnership with the Canadian government.”
AIAC previously outlined suggestions for strengthening the sector in its Vision 2025 report, including a Buy for Canada strategy. And, Bell customers like Zach Petrachek, president of OG6 Enterprises, agree that buying Canadian is a source of pride, especially when it means protecting jobs.
While every sale of a Bell helicopter made in Canada protects highly-skilled jobs from coast to coast to coast, a significant portion of the sector supported is in Quebec. In 1986, Bell chose Mirabel, QC as the home of its commercial aircraft assembly and delivery center of excellence. Since its founding, Aero Montreal president and CEO Suzanne Benoit acknowledges Bell as a model company working with suppliers so they can reach excellence themselves.