Estimated reading time 9 minutes, 55 seconds.
Abbotsford, B.C., was the centre of Canadian aviation and aerospace from Aug. 9 to 13, 2017, when two tradeshows combined with Western Canada’s largest airshow to attract about 1,000 aerospace and business aviation professionals to the city.
For the first time, the Aerospace Defence and Security Expo (ADSE)–traditionally hosted in Abbotsford by the Pacific chapter of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC)–was held in conjunction with the annual Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) conference and tradeshow.
Hosted by the Tradex facility on the airport grounds, show attendees had the added bonus of taking in the Abbotsford International Airshow, which roared through the skies from Aug. 11 to 13.
Both associations scheduled a full slate of educational sessions, prominent speakers and recreational opportunities.
A wide variety of aerospace and business aviation-related companies filled 110 tradeshow booths, showcasing the latest products and services to attendees. A total of 18 aircraft were on static display at the show, ranging from a First World War Sopwith Pup fighter [displayed at the Skies booth] to the very latest offerings from business jet manufacturers, including Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, Honda Aircraft, Pilatus, Quest and Textron.Co-hosted by AIAC president Jim Quick and CBAA president Rudy Toering, the joint event officially opened on Aug. 10. Both association leaders were quick to acknowledge the new partnership, with Toering noting the event was “the start of many shared opportunities.”
A number of high-profile dignitaries attended the show, including Abbotsford mayor Henry Braun and new B.C. Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, Bruce Ralston.
In his remarks to delegates, Ralston noted that aerospace directly and indirectly employs 10,000 people in B.C., contributing two per cent to the provincial gross domestic product. As a member of the province’s newly-elected New Democratic Party government, Ralston promised a focus on innovation and technology. He said plans are underway to establish a provincial innovation commission with the mandate of being the “ambassador for B.C. technology.”
Focus on Investment and Innovation
On Aug. 11, RCAF Commander LGen Mike Hood attended the show, where he told delegates that his vision remains firmly fixed on planning the Air Force of 2030.
While honouring the past, he said today’s Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) must prepare for a future where it will be needed.
“I often wonder what the next 10 to 15 years will bring,” commented Hood. “Certainly, if the news of the last few weeks with threats to North America is any indicator, the Air Force will have a large role to play in making sure this country is able to protect its values and its citizens and global interests.”
Of all the forces, the RCAF alone has the ability to reach every square foot of Canadian soil, air and water.
“It’s why the north warning system and our future fighter force are so important,” said Hood. “These are the tools that allow us to guarantee the future sovereignty of our country.”
He went on to summarize recent operational missions and accomplishments, noting that in order to protect Canadian sovereignty today and in the future the Air Force has three priorities: to invest, to deliver airpower, and to innovate.
While Canada’s new defence policy clearly demonstrates investment, Canada must also focus on delivering interoperable air power with allies and partners.
“Most importantly, we have to innovate,” said Hood, who is known for promoting creativity and forward-thinking in the Air Force. “I have to nurture an innovative mindset within the RCAF and amongst those who enable us in our missions.”
He added that recruiting the millennial generation is a key goal that can be achieved by demonstrating an organization that embraces change, encourages ideas and seeks the best talent.
Echoing the sentiments of other aerospace leaders who spoke during the ADSE show, Hood said the greatest need for the Air Force today is people.
“While we tend to talk a lot about aircraft and platforms, it’s really people,” he commented. “We owe them sound leadership, first rate education and training, and a culture that allows them to flourish and be innovative.”
Hood concluded by offering a challenge to Canada’s aerospace industry.
“With the time I have left in my command, I intend to push more aggressively in our relationship. I’m looking for more engagement with the aerospace industry, with you folks in this room,” he said. “I challenge you to take me up on what I’ve spoken about today. Find the forums that will make us better partners. At the end of the day, we all share the same interests and that is protecting this great country of ours.”
Opportunities for Industry
Later that same afternoon, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan took to the stage to deliver the closing keynote address.
On behalf of Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, Sajjan announced that funding totalling more than $320,000 will be made available to support ADSE in 2017 and 2018, the CARIC National Research Forum in 2017, and a Western Canadian presence at the Paris Airshow in 2017 and the Farnborough International Airshow in 2018.
“I have seen firsthand the innovative edge Canadian companies are bringing to our Canadian Armed Forces capabilities,” said Sajjan. “Our government is proud to support the sector’s highly skilled workforce to continue to produce quality services and products.”
Now that the government has released Canada’s new defence policy, it’s time to focus on implementation, continued the defence minister.
The policy presents opportunities for industry partners.
“It not only demonstrates our commitment to the Canadian armed forces, but also offers our industry partners insight into future procurement needs on the ground, in the air, on the water and also in space,” said Sajjan.
He added that he is excited about the creation of IDEAS–Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security–a new program that will see $1.6 billion invested over the next 20 years to create defence super clusters, hold innovation competitions and implement flexible procurement mechanisms.
Like Hood, Sajjan also stressed that collaboration between government, the Armed Forces and industry will be critical.
“We will collaborate with you to the fullest extent possible,” he told delegates. “We will help companies field test products with the Canadian Armed Forces so new capabilities meet the needs of our military. We will give businesses the experience and exposure they need to pursue opportunities in the global market.”
While both ADSE and CBAA count their joint 2017 show as a success, the two associations will be going their separate ways next year. ADSE will remain in Abbotsford from Aug. 9 to 10, while CBAA will hold its annual summer convention and tradeshow at Chartright’s facility at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.
ADSE will again join forces and co-locate with CBAA in Abbotsford in August 2019.