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All eyes on Toronto aerospace cluster: Emerson report

Nov. 29, 2012, Toronto - Contained in the Aerospace Review report released today by Hon. David Emerson is a proposal to establish an aerospace cluster in southern Ontario to operate in tandem with the existing cluster in Montréal, forming a vital technology corridor to enhance the capabilities of both centres.


November 29, 2012
By Carey Fredericks

A public-private partnership has formed to promote the establishment
of such a cluster at federally owned Downsview Park in Toronto,
adjacent to the existing aircraft assembly facility operated by
Bombardier Inc. The Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and
Research (DAIR), which involves Ontario's very best educational
institutions and aerospace technology leaders, has an ambitious plan to
recast the former military airbase as a global aerospace hub that would
function as an innovation incubator and attract considerable investment.

The
cluster is central to meeting challenges to Canada's fifth-place global
ranking as an aerospace technology provider. One of the constraints to
industry growth is an aging workforce and resulting skilled-labour
shortage. The partners are motivated to develop new technologies through
research and innovation, aid in workforce training and skills
development, and participate in supply-chain development geared to small
and medium enterprises (SMEs). Already, Bombardier has selected
Centennial College as its trainer of choice, helping to prepare its
existing and future workforce with new skills required in the assembly
and maintenance of its aircraft.

Founding cluster partners
Bombardier, Centennial College and the University of Toronto Institute
for Aerospace Studies are looking to grow the group. Interest has been
expressed by aerospace industry leaders including Pratt & Whitney
Canada, SPP Canada Aircraft, Messier-Dowty, Honeywell and UTC Aerospace
Systems. Additional academic partners, including Ryerson and York
universities, will collaborate on an innovation research centre at
Downsview, deemed essential to an industry poised to grow rapidly
through 2030.

The City of Toronto has passed a resolution in
support of the proposed Downsview cluster and there are positive
indications of support from the Ontario government. The Downsview
aerospace cluster is expected to draw other major partners from the
public and private sectors, including universities, manufacturers, and
research and development agencies. DAIR would like to thank Industry
Canada for funding the important and timely Aerospace Review.

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