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2024 – Aerospace | Boeing lands in the metropolis

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Around 300 million private investments are announced for the start of a new innovation zone




Due to major turmoil in the United States, Boeing will make a major investment in the Montreal region on Tuesday. As we have learned, the American giant will be the source of the bulk of the 300 million private investments that the Legault government will announce at the launch of the fourth innovation zone The press.

This highly anticipated announcement includes several components: the establishment of a new development center, research into a new type of aircraft and the addition of training programs in this area.

The announcement comes as a kickoff to Aéro Montréal's International Aerospace Innovation Forum, billed as “Canada's largest gathering of international decision-makers in the aerospace sector.”

The Legault government will take the opportunity to confirm the creation of an aerospace innovation zone that will be deployed in three centers: Longueuil (Saint-Hubert district), Montreal (Saint-Laurent district) and Mirabel. The arrival of Boeing will enrich the area where major players such as Airbus, Bombardier and CAE are already established.

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Quebec will contribute tens of millions of dollars. In his budget presented on March 12, Finance Minister Eric Girard had also allocated an amount of 75 million over five years (15 million per year) to “ensure the growth of the aerospace sector”.

PHOTO EDOUARD PLANTE-FRÉCHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard

“Important projects in the space sector are expected to launch over the next year,” the budget says.

There are no details, but we decipher that the government was preparing the landing of Boeing in the metropolitan area and the creation of the innovation zone.

Commitments

This entry by the American aircraft manufacturer comes with its commitment to generate billions of dollars in economic benefits after winning a multibillion-dollar contract from the federal government last November. This includes the delivery of 16 Poseidon P-8As – 14 firm orders and 2 options – to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) aging surveillance aircraft. These aircraft are assembled in the United States.

This issue took a political turn as the agreement was granted by mutual consent to the American giant while Bombardier requested a tender to offer a militarized version of its Global 6500 private jet. Quebec and Ontario had publicly supported the Quebec manufacturer.

Federal government regulations required Boeing to obtain economic benefits in Canada equivalent to the part of the contract surrounding the construction of the Poseidon. In principle, the monitoring of the commitments must be carried out by federal officials.

Boeing had given a glimpse of its intentions in awarding the contract from Ottawa, presenting 16 initiatives without providing many details. The most specific announcement involved a Chinook military helicopter maintenance contract awarded to L3 Harris Canada, allowing the company to hire 20 employees at Mirabel in the Laurentians.

The multinational had also committed to setting up a research and development center, without, however, quantifying the size of this investment, the city in which it would be located or the number of employees.

Boeing also promised a “skills development program” with McGill University. According to our information, the niche of the Quebec establishment specializing in aerospace law will serve as a training center for the American multinational's legal department.

Boeing's contribution will also benefit the development of training at the École Nationale d'aérotechnique, affiliated to Cégep Édouard-Montpetit. A new campus is under construction, a branch of the École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS).

As part of the conditions to be met, the American aircraft manufacturer must also integrate Canadian suppliers into its supply chain, i.e. into programs other than the Poseidon. This is likely to benefit Longueuil-based Héroux-Devtek, which generates almost 20% of its annual turnover from the multinational company. A new agreement between this company and Boeing is in the works.

Advantages of a zone

Without knowing all the details of the announcements planned for next Tuesday, Mehran Ebrahimi, professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and director of the International Aeronautical and Civil Aviation Observatory, is well aware that the industry in Quebec is affected is waiting to be designated as an innovation zone.

PHOTO KARENE-ISABELLE JEAN-BAPTISTE, ARCHIVE, SPECIAL COLLABORATION

Mehran Ebrahimi, Professor at UQAM and Director of the International Observatory of Aeronautics and Civil Aviation

“This concept makes it possible to make investments more targeted,” says the expert. Currently we are spreading it everywhere. We will be able to better structure the main topics. For example, with the National School of Aerotechnics and the ETS university campus in Longueuil, we will know that the training concept will be concentrated there. »

Previously, Boeing was present in Quebec through subsidiaries. Wisk Aero, which is working on developing an electric air taxi, has an office in Laval. The company Jeppesen, which specializes in navigation systems, is also represented in Montreal. Last April, The press reported that Wisk wanted to double its workforce – the company employs about 45 engineers in Montreal's northern suburbs – and the size of its offices.

The American manufacturer's reputation has been tarnished lately by a recent in-flight incident and quality and safety issues in production. Boeing has been the focus of American authorities since a door on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 plane crashed mid-flight on January 5th. Whistleblowers – particularly former employees of the aircraft manufacturer – have pointed to deficiencies in the aircraft manufacturer's practices.

Quebec currently has three innovation zones, a project launched by Prime Minister François Legault. The first two were announced in 2022: on quantum science in Sherbrooke and another on digital technologies in Bromont. The third project, announced last year, is the Energy Transition Valley, which brings together Bécancour, Trois-Rivières and Shawinigan.

In addition to the aerospace zone, another innovation zone could soon emerge, the “Blue Zone” of the maritime sector in Rimouski and Grande-Rivière.

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  • 238
    Number of members of Aéro Montréal, Quebec's industry cluster

    Source: Aero Montreal

    37,000
    Number of jobs in Quebec's aerospace industry

    Source: Government of Quebec