From green planes to flying taxis: the aerospace industry is going full throttle


The government of François Legault was officially launched in the Greater Region on Tuesday Metropolitan region, Espace Aero, a fourth special innovation zone, This time in aerospace. The hunger years of the pandemic seem to be over for these Industry. In full growth, it has set itself ambitious goals, especially in decarbonisation, and it is not sparing any means to achieve them.

While Quebec's aerospace industry returned to pre-COVID sales levels in 2022, its number of jobs increased by 12% to 41,700 in 2023. At the same time, its revenue increased by 16% to nearly $20.9 billion. It is also the industry that exports the most in Quebec: while it previously represented about 10% of Quebec's exports, it reached 13.5% in 2023.

“People are travelling again, aircraft orders are increasing and order books are full: for certain models, we even have to wait ten years for delivery,” says Mélanie Lussier, president and CEO of Aéro Montréal, Quebec’s aerospace cluster.

Towards green aviation

At the same time, the aerospace industry has committed to being carbon neutral by 2050 and therefore faces major challenges. It is working on this with different strategies. The simplest way is to opt for more sustainable fuels, SAF (, ).sustainable aviation fuel). For example, they are made from forest residues and mixed with conventional fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Another solution is to change the shape of the planes. “By making the planes more triangular, we reduce air resistance and therefore fuel consumption,” explains the CEO of Aéro Montréal.

We are also looking at engines. “They produce the most greenhouse gases, so developing new engines is extremely important to achieve significant savings,” says Mélanie Lussier. We want to electrify the drive or part of it. »

MMe Lussier mentions Pratt & Whitney, Canada's largest investor in aerospace research and development, which is working on its hybrid-electric flight demonstrator to improve fuel efficiency by 30%.

One of the main priorities of the Quebec Aerospace Research and Innovation Consortium (CRIAQ) is to reduce the environmental impact of the industry as much as possible.

“Several of our research projects, carried out by various partners, aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft or to make production more environmentally friendly, for example through the processes, parts and materials used,” explains Guillaume Côté, President and CEO of CRIAQ. This organization includes around 160 members from companies, research and training institutes.

New forms of mobility

Another priority for CRIAQ is advanced air mobility, such as drones and flying taxis. “We are thinking more long-term here,” says Mr Côté.

These developments are important in Mélanie Lussier's eyes. “We need to think differently about mobility to achieve short-distance travel,” she says. Some of these electric vehicles, which take off and land vertically, will be autonomous. “We are still testing the technology,” she explains. But for those that will have a pilot, the technology is ready, we have achieved certification and Montreal is good at it. »

She also points out that these machines fly at an altitude of 213 meters, lower than airplanes, but high enough that we can't hear them. “They make less noise than an Amazon delivery truck,” she assures.

However, it won't be tomorrow that we will receive our online purchases by drone. “We are thinking about these solutions for Transplant Québec (organ donation), for example, or to carry out an initial needs assessment at the scene of an accident,” explains Mélanie Lussier.

Habitats for innovation

To achieve this progress, the Montreal region must of course continue to be attractive. This is what the various players in the sector are working on, which on May 21 received the designation of aerospace innovation zone from the Quebec government. This zone has three poles: Longueuil (Saint-Hubert borough), Montreal (Saint-Laurent borough) and Mirabel. While Bombardier and Airbus are already present, we can now also count on Boeing, which will invest $240 million of the total $415 million in public and private investment.

“The innovation zone will enable cities, training centres, research centres and companies to work better together to develop interesting living spaces around airports,” says Mélanie Lussier. This will enable us to work more effectively to attract talent to meet the major challenges facing the industry. »

This content was created by the Special Publications Team of Dutyin connection with marketing. Writing the Duty did not participate.

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