History of Flight from Around the World
Canada has a special place in aviation and aeronautics, with a history dating back to the very earliest days of flying. Since that time, the shape and thrust of the industry and research community has changed in response to various stimuli: military interests were supplanted by the need for exploration of Canada's north and international market realities have since caused Canada to focus on more specialized or niche markets. Canada's aerospace industry now leads the world in developments such as turboprop commuter aircraft, business and commercial jet aircraft, turbine engines, helicopters, landing gear, microwave landing systems, satellite communications technology, flight simulators, and space robotics technology. Today, the industry employs more than 100,000 people in every region of the country in aerospace-related jobs. More than 12,000 of these are scientific and engineering personnel.
Canada is totally self-sufficient in its development of aerospace technical, engineering, scientific, and operational skills with well-developed educational facilities in all regions of the country.
The country also develops its own new technologies through well-developed research facilities at several major universities. Because of its proximity to the United States, a large exchange of skills and qualified people also takes place on a continuing basis, further enhancing Canada's aerospace skill development. This mixing of Canadian and foreign, as well as the practical and theoretical, has resulted in a cross-flow of information that is of great value to both the academic community and industry. It has furthered the practical exploitation of aerospace research. The National Research Council's Institute for Aerospace Research is the keystone in the academic and research efforts of the country, now largely funded by the private sector on a fee-for-service basis.
There are several major aerospace companies in Canada, notably Bombardier's Canadair and de Havilland divisions, Pratt and Whitney Canada, Bell Helicopter Canada, Spar, and CAE. The Bombardier products of the Canadair Challenger, the de Havilland Dash Eight, and the Regional Jet are well known worldwide, as is the family of Pratt and Whitney Canada engines. Bell Helicopter Canada has the world mandate to market the civil variants of its parent company's product lines, and Spar, best known for the Space Shuttle's "Canadarm" remote manipulator system, is also a prime manufacturer of communications satellites and space systems. In addition to these and branch plants of other large companies such as Boeing, there are more than 50 medium-sized and hundreds of smaller companies that provide proprietary products or build-to-print components that are sold to companies outside Canada.
Originally provided to AIAA for its Evolution of Flight Campaign, 2003.
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