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The Power of Innovation

July 7, 2010  By Matt Nicholls

Countless examples in the corporate world of late remind us an organization’s success lies not only in its ability to respond to its customer’s needs, but also in identifying growth opportunities and creative ways to overcome challenges.

Countless examples in the corporate world of late remind us an organization’s success lies not only in its ability to respond to its customer’s needs, but also in identifying growth opportunities and creative ways to overcome challenges.

Such an approach is pertinent for all aerospace manufacturers and rotary- and fixed-wing operators, but it can be even more effective when companies pool resources to share ideas. This is precisely why the formation of the Canadian Composites Manufacturing Research and Development consortium (CCMRD) in early June is so noteworthy.

The partnership brings together major aerospace companies and small- to medium-sized enterprises to develop and transform the latest technical and academic knowledge into practical solutions to enhance Canada’s global competitiveness.

Formed in co-operation with the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) in Winnipeg, National Research Council Canada’s Institute for Aerospace Research (NRC-IAR) in Ottawa, and The Boeing Company, the partnership includes leading aerospace companies from across the country including: Quebec’s Bell Helicopters and Avior Integrated Products; Ontario’s Comtek Advanced Structures; Convergent Manufacturing Technologies and Profile Composites in British Columbia; and Manitoba’s Bristol Aerospace, a division of Magellan Aerospace Ltd., and Cormer Group Industries Inc.


The CIC will play an administrative role in the mix, while member companies will participate in carrying out projects across the country. The NRC-IAR acts as technology advisor, and Boeing will provide financial support, project guidance and technology organization.

The CCMRD is also in line with Canada’s Industrial & Regional Benefits (IRB) policy and plays an integral part of Boeing’s IRB program associated with the Canadian Forces’ acquisition of 15 CH-147 Chinook medium-to-heavy lift helicopters (for more on the CH-147 Chinook,  see“ A Versatile Leader” pg. 24).

Sean McKay, executive director of Canadian Composites R&D Inc., says the consortium fills a significant void in Canada, helping to advance aerospace technologies while building strong relationships between Canadian and international OEMs, and Canadian material, equipment, component and software suppliers. It’s a unique partnership he suggests could set a precedent for product development partnerships in other areas of the aerospace industry.

“We’ve been attempting to put together in Canada a national consortium to run collaborative projects for the last eight or nine years,” McKay says. “There have always been some great discussions between our industry partners, but we’ve never been able to put a package together that will financially support it. Thanks to the Boeing organization, it provided the financial commitment needed and got government agencies and industry partners involved to participate in putting this together.”

Pete Hoffman, Global Research and Development Strategy Director for Boeing Research & Technology, concurs, stating the partnership “is part of our long-term focus of working together with industry, universities and research organizations to advance Canada’s role in providing high-technology, high-quality materials and components for the aerospace industry.”

Showing no boundaries
Exploring new frontiers in the Canadian Aerospace industry was also front and centre at the On the Wings of Innovation Conference in Windsor, Ont., June 4-6. The event brought together some 120 experts from more than 40 organizations to showcase advanced technologies and share ideas for future growth.

Rod Jones, executive director of the Ontario Aerospace Council, said the event was about getting the thought processes going and thinking of new ways to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Finding creative ways to innovate and diversify operations is a running theme throughout this issue of Helicopters, particularly in Bill Tice’s cover story profiling B.C.’s West Coast Helicopters (“Catching On!,” pg. 20). The story illustrates how proper R&D coupled with the courage to implement new ideas helped transform the operation into a strong, diverse, more competitive business. It’s a challenge many operators face every year.

Striving to innovate and a creative, fearless approach – it’s a winning formula for rotary- and fixed-wing operators, and all Canadian aerospace manufacturers. At Helicopters, we look forward to highlighting the partnerships and accomplishments of all Canadian aviation companies in this and future issues.


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