Green aviation initiatives in Canada brought to standstill: GARDN

AvatarBy Brian Dunn | March 23, 2021

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 41 seconds.

The future of the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN) will be decided between now and its next annual meeting on June 18, based on four scenarios put forward to its board of directors. The decision was announced during a special GARDN virtual meeting on March 19.

It was only last September at its 2020 annual meeting that GARDN announced it was changing its mandate to concentrate strictly on promoting the supply of locally produced sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at every domestic airport. Before that, it was also involved in the overall greening of the aerospace industry through several initiatives, including research and development.

Aircraft blue sky
GARDN is currently trying to find the right “vehicle” to launch its sustainable aviation fuel initiative. Ethan McArthur/Unsplash Photo

But a lack of government funding and the possible need to change GARDN’s current structure to pursue its new mandate will decide where it goes from here.

“We’re trying to find the right vehicle to launch our SAF initiative,” GARDN director Myrka Manzo explained after the meeting. “The ideal situation is to keep it as is or start from scratch.”

The organization is funded equally between the private and public sectors, but the federal program that financed GARDN (Networks of Centres of Excellence) has ceased to exist. It is being replaced by another federal agency that will concentrate on aerospace research and development, rather than SAF.

During its March 19 meeting, GARDN announced it will “cease activities” as of March 31, 2021, as it looks for ways to move forward with its new mandate as a new entity.

The organization is looking at other sources of funding, including membership fees between $500 to $2,500 for not-for-profits, and $5,000 to $25,000 for private organizations. It may also be able to tap into Natural Resources Canada’s $1.5 billion budget earmarked to promote and develop different types of sustainable fuels. Another potential source is Innovation, Science and Economic Development in addition to various provincial programs.

During the virtual meeting, GARDN outlined its objectives as part of its 2021-2024 Action Plan. They are as follows: Ensure the growth and representation of the SAF network; establish a shared vision and coordinated approach among a wide range of stakeholders; and enable the creation of regional supply chains across Canada.

GARDN has established a working group to help achieve its action plan, consisting of Alex Iordan (SAF+), Steven Le Moing (Airbus), Stu Porter (Biofuels Consulting/Forge), Myrka Manzo (Air Canada), Jack Saddler (UBC), Ted McDonald (Transport Canada), and Mehdi Lakhdari (Natural Resources Canada).

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