Ontario, Canada, remains a stable source of aerospace activity, although some chinks in the armor have appeared over the last year. Some sectors have shown modest growth, while others have retrenched.

“There is certainly stability within the aerospace sector in Ontario, and modest growth for some companies,” said Moira Harvey, executive director of the Ontario Aerospace Council.

The province’s highly diversified aerospace cluster now accounts for CA$6 billion in annual revenue and 21,000 direct jobs, according to the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth. Every commercial aircraft flying today has a part made in Ontario.

“The big question is whether these programs will stay at the high level of production, and whether the Toronto-based component-producing vendors supporting programs of Airbus and Boeing mainly will continue at the same rate,” said David Tyerman, transportation and industrial analyst with Cormark Securities Inc.

Some growth-through-acquisition strategies have taken place since ShowNews last visited Ontario. In December 2016, SatCom Direct finalized its acquisition of TruNorth Avionics, the Canadian manufacturer of cabin communications systems.

Canadian firm Samuel purchased metal additive maker, Burlock Technologies and, in mid-December 2016, Wanfeng Auto Holding Group, a Chinese manufacturer of aircraft and automobile parts, acquired a controlling interest in Ontario-based Diamond Aircraft Industries.

Some of Ontario’s existing aerospace companies are growing. Mississauga, Ontario-based MHI Canada Aerospace Inc. is now the primary producer for the Challenger 300 wing. It also makes the Global 5000/6000 wing and center fuselage. MHI has developed a new vertical wing jig, which can be used for different aircraft models.

Shimco, a manufacturer of precision parts for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, continues to enhance its new manufacturing facility in Cambridge, which opened in mid-October 2016. Customers include Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, Embraer, UTAS Goodrich, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty and Héroux-Devtek Inc.

Magellan Aerospace, a Canadian manufacturer of aerospace systems and components, announced in March 2017 an agreement between Magellan UK and Airbus for the supply of complete crown module assemblies for all variants of the A350XWB.

Fort Erie, Ontario, is home to Airbus Helicopters Canada Ltd.’s completion and support facilities, where the division manufactures all of the cowlings for much of the Airbus rotorcraft fleet. The company also does light gearbox work for various Airbus helicopters.

In May 2017, L3 WESCAM, based in Burlington, near Toronto, launched its MatriX ISR system kits for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. MatriX combines commercial off-the-shelf technologies that provide an advanced level of ISR mission capabilities.

Cyclone Manufacturing of Mississauga, Ontario, is growing 20% per year over the last six years, tripling in size. In 2017, Cyclone received a CA$15 million contract from Boeing to provide parts on the 777X.

In neighboring Quebec, Héroux-Devtek (Hall 3, Booth E48), which specializes in the development and repair of landing gear and actuation systems, is another company facing challenges and opportunities simultaneously. The company will lay off 90 employees by the end of this year. The move is due directly to OEMs reducing production rates for certain aircraft programs, including the Boeing 777.

In June 2016, it completed the final assembly of the pre-production ship set for the 777 landing gear. Heroux-Devtek has a long-term contract to produce landing gear for the 777X.

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft cut production of its high-wing Q400 turboprop regional airliner and Global business jets over the years. Current production rate of the Q400 has dropped to around 20-25 per year, estimated Konark Gupta, an aerospace analyst at Macquarie Canada. Meanwhile, Bombardier Business Jets reduced production of its Global 5000 and 6000 business jets made at Downsview due to a slowdown in this sector.

Yet the business jet division marches forward. Flight tests of the Global 7000 continue unabated. In May, a third flight test vehicle joined the program. Bombardier estimates it will deliver 135 business jets in 2017, including Learjets.

Despite the mixed news, the Canadian government months ago reaffirmed its commitment to aerospace, stating it would provide CA$372.5 million over four years in repayable contributions to Bombardier Inc.

The loan program is unrelated to the Canadian government’s recently announced CA$950 million Superclusters Initiative to help jump-start innovation in high-growth sectors, including transportation.

While industry will benefit from the Superclusters, the entity that receives the funding must be an industry-led “not-for-profit” organization. Project funding provided by the Initiative must be matched one-for-one by industry contributions.

Despite the various market challenges, Ontario continues to be a driving force in aerospace. “Overall, the aerospace industry in the province seems to be growing,” said Macquarie’s Gupta. “The government is supporting aerospace and private money is flowing in. I think Ontario is a growth story for some time.”