Canada at the Paris Air Show
Jul 15, 2011

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Known internationally as the world’s aerospace meeting place, the biannual Paris Air Show, or “Le Bourget”, showcases the latest aircraft and aerospace products, large and small, to the industry, the media and to the public at large. This year’s event, the 49th such exhibition, was no exception, and Canadian aerospace companies were well represented.
Announcements: Traditionally, the Paris Air Show has focused on unveilling new aircraft, and announcing aircraft orders from airlines and armed forces alike. In this respect, this year’s event remained true to form for at least one Canadian company. Bombardier, one of the few aerospace companies which remains involved in the design and production of complete airliners, announced that it had secured an order for 10 of its CS100 aircraft from an undisclosed European customer. This followed a similar order of 10 copies of the same aircraft, with options for a further 10, for Korean Air. This adds to the circa 123 orders that the CS100 has garnered from seven customers around the world. Options taken for the aircraft could increase Bombardier’s eventual order book to 250 copies. The CS100 is expected to enter revenue service in 2013.
UAVs: Although the announcement of new aircraft orders form a key part of the Paris Air Show, showcasing state-of-the-art technology is another important aspect of the biannual exhibition. Firms such as MicroPilot, based in Stony Mountain, Manitoba, were able to demonstrate the cutting-edge ingenuity that Canadian aerospace companies have become known for around the world. MicroPilot leads the field in producing small autopilots for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Its subsidiary company, CropCam, builds UAVs for agricultural applications. MicroPilot announced at the show that it will further enhance the design of this UAV with the addition of a new lithium-ion battery pack located in a belly pod to be carried on vehicle’s exterior. This has been developed to extend the endurance of the aircraft, which is presently in the region of 55 minutes, to around 1.5 hours. The new battery pack is housed in a belly pod to make it easier to change the batteries than from within the body of the aircraft.
Avionics Along with UAVs, Canadian companies are also heavily involved in the supply of subsystems for military aircraft. For example, Esterline CMC Electronics was celebrating at the show the maiden flight of Patria’s first Mk.66 Hawk advanced trainer aircraft, based on BAE Systems’ Hawk jet trainer design, for the Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force). The company, which has a presence both in Saint-Laurent, Québec and in Ottawa, was selected by Patria to provide the aircraft with its 4000 avionics suite during the upgrade of the force’s Mk.66 aircraft.
Esterline CMC Electronics, shown here, was one of several Canadian companies exhibiting at this year’s Paris Air Show.
Recently, Esterline CMC Electronics has also completed cockpit upgrades for the Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Chilean Air Force’s) Lockheed Martin C-130 freighters. These aircraft are receiving the company’s CMA-9000 avionics suite which comprises six multifunction displays, affording the aircraft a further two decades of operational service. In total, the Chilean Air Force operates three C-130A/B aircraft, although only two are receiving the upgrade. Along with the C-130A/B, Sukhoi’s Superjet-1000, which was also at the Paris Air Show performing flight displays, will include CMA-9000 avionics systems.
Janka Dvornik, head of communications at Esterline CMC Electronics, says that the Paris Air Show is “an opportunity for the company to connect with industry, our suppliers and our partners.” Furthermore, the event provides a forum for the company to showcase both sides of its business: “We are Canada’s foremost avionics company. We supply to both military and commercial customers, and the Paris Air Show attracts both. Within that business we have a mix of military and commercial aviation clients. The Paris Air Show has the prime contractors which serve all these markets, and it provides an opportunity to connect.”
For Magellan Aerospace, the exhibition plays a similarly crucial role as a forum in which the company can meet with contractors to discuss current work that the firm is undertaking; and also to think about future products which its customers may require. Like CMC, Magellan Aerospace; which is based in Mississauga, Ontario, produces a range of components and subsystems for both civilian and military aerospace customers. These include aircraft engine gearboxes, exhaust systems and turbine cases.
The new Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime support helicopter was at the Paris Air Show. Sikorsky will deliver 28 to the Canadian Forces.
The expertise that the company has developed in terms of engine subassemblies has resulted in key roles in several major aircraft programmes, including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner airliners; plus the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning-II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat aircraft. Along with Australia, Denmark, Norway and Turkey, Canada is a so-called ‘Level-3’ partner in the JSF ­programme, and is expected to obtain 65 F-35 aircraft as a replacement for its 80 Boeing CF-18 multirole combat aircraft.
In fact, subsystems is a big business for Canadian aerospace manufacturers in the civilian and military domains. Several Canadian firms provide high-end components to the world’s aircraft manufacturers. In addition to Magellan Aerospace and CMC, other companies include Arnprior Aerospace, which produces a number of critical products for aircraft, including everything from structural components to electrical items such as junction boxes, avionics racks and aircraft doors. Arnprior Aerospace notes that they can construct subsystem components specific to any customers’ specific design, if required.
While Canadian aerospace companies were well represented in the exhibition halls, Canadian aircraft were also to be found on the flight line, notably the Canadian Forces’ new Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime support helicopters. The aircraft was making its debut appearance at the show, and will soon begin to replace the erstwhile Sikorsky H-3 Sea King helicopters. The CH-148s are themselves based upon Sikorsky’s S-92 design, although they add General Electric CT7-8 turboshafts, plus the necessary sonar and maritime search radar to allow the aircraft to perform ocean surveillance missions. Canada has already received its first CH-148 Cyclone, which was delivered to CFB Shearwater in Nova Scotia on 13 May. This aircraft is expected to enter formal service over the coming months. Eventually, the CF Air Force will obtain 28 CH-148s which will replace the circa 26 Sea Kings which continues to maintain.
Along with the aircraft and companies, a number of Canada’s aerospace industrial federations were represented at this year’s Paris Air Show. These included the Aerospace Industrial Association of Canada (AIAC). Based in Ottawa, the organization works to provide advocacy on aerospace issues and, in the organization’s own words: “help Canada’s aerospace industry remain competitive and take advantage of new aerospace opportunities.” The AIAC was joined by the Association Québécoise de l’Aérospatiale (Quebec Aerospace Association) which performs a similar task representing the interests of the Québec aerospace industry.
June 2011 – The A380 developmental aircraft shown returning to Le Bourget Airport, with the second A380 for Korean Air in the foreground.
In addition to these organizations, the Canadian Pavilion hosted DRDC (Defence Research and Development Canada) which is the research and development arm of the Department of National Defence. This marked the fifth occasion that the DRDC has exhibited at the event; “to showcase the strong defence and civilian science and technology capabilities within the Federal Government,” according to a written statement released by DRDC to FrontLine Defence.
The Paris Air Show provides a meeting point for the world’s aerospace companies and professionals: “The most important aspect of the show, from a DRDC perspective, is the networking with the wide variety of exhibitors and participants that attend the show, plus the opportunity to discuss areas of mutual interest and opportunity,” the statement goes on to note.
The impressive representation of Canadian aerospace companies and organizations at this year’s Paris Air Show illustrates that the exhibition is about much more than simply showcasing new military and civilian aircraft; although this still remains a crucial part of the event.
For the exhibitors who make the long journey across the Atlantic, the show is also an invaluable opportunity to meet with customers and suppliers. This level of networking is vital, particularly in an environment where subcontractors such as Magellan Aerospace and Esterline CMC Electronics are being asked to carry an ever-increasing share of the research and development burden, in terms of subsystem development, when new aircraft are being designed. This has been particularly noticeable on the Airbus’ A350 family of airliners which the French-based aircraft builder is developing. For several of the Canadian companies participating at the exhibition, it will also be the last major European aerospace event that they attend before the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in 2012.

Thomas Withington, a correspondent for Janes Defense, currently lives in France.
© Frontline Defence 2011