October 14, 2022 | Local, Naval
Construction of navy's new supply ship halted by strike — government unsure how shipbuilding strategy will be affected
The labour dispute has entered its second month.
National Defence fell $2.3 billion short in its plan to re-equip the military in the past year — a failing that one defence analyst says guarantees many important decisions on warplanes, ships and vehicles will be pushed beyond next year's election.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan revealed the figure Wednesday as he launched the department's long-anticipated investment plan at a major defence industry trade show in Ottawa.
The plan is the Liberal government's spending roadmap for its defence policy, released a year ago, which pledged $6.2 billion in new capital spending in the first year.
New figures show $3.9 billion was spent.
Later in the day, the chair of the Liberal government's council of economic advisers underscored the importance of investment in the defence sector and how it will drive innovation in other sectors.
"If we want to grow — and we can in Canada, and we want to grow more significantly — the defence sector is going to play an essential part in doing that," Dominic Barton said.
Leading-edge military technology and the possibilities for its commercialization can transform the broader economy, he added.
However, the investment plan presented by the Liberals on Wednesday leans heavily on refurbishing existing technology and equipment — mostly aircraft — in the coming decade.
The Defence Capabilities Blue Print will see the air force's CF-18 fighter jets, C-140 Aurora surveillance planes, C-144 Challenger executive jets, C-150 Polaris refuellers and transports, CT-114 Tutor trainers and demonstration jets, C-149 search and rescue helicopters and CH-146 Griffons all given life extensions and upgrades.
New aircraft, including drones, won't be introduced until the mid-2020s — or later.
A defence analyst said that's no surprise since many major decisions will be pushed past the 2019 election. That means it will be up to the next government to make the tough decisions on how much to buy and how much to spend.
"Unless we see an extremely busy June with a lot of announcements on milestone projects, a lot of the work is going to be left until later," said Dave Perry, an expert in procurement at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
"They're not moving ahead as quickly as they suggested in the defence policy."
The government could leave even more money on the table this year. Figures compiled by Perry, using the federal government's own budget documents and records, suggest as much as $3 billion could go unspent on military equipment in the current fiscal period.
The former Conservative government was repeatedly criticized for promising the military big things in terms of equipment, but rarely delivering and allowing allocated funds to lapse.
That cash was eventually kicked back to the federal treasury and used for deficit reduction.
Sajjan said defence spending is now guaranteed in the fiscal framework, the government's long-term financial plan.
That means National Defence gets to keep the money and spend it later.
"We always know we might not need the extra funds, but they have to be there just in case," Sajjan said. "Rest assured, the unspent $2.3 billion dollars is protected. Those funds remain available when we need them."
He defended the spending "delta," saying that 30 per cent of it comes because projects came in under budget. Another 42 per cent was because of delays by defence contractors.
Approximately one-third, though, relates to the department's inability to make a decision — or develop specifications on time.
Sajjan took a shot at the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper, which used to regularly publish its defence spending plans, but never had specific funding attached to individual projects.
Conservative defence critic James Bezan said there is a disconnect between the government's defence policy and its spending plans as outlined in federal budget documents.
"Nothing seems to match," said Bezan, who treats the federal budget as the last word in spending.
There was no mention of National Defence in Finance Minister Bill Morneau's latest fiscal, presented in February. Defence officials insist that is because the department's spending is already accounted for in the fiscal framework.
The federal Treasury Board, however, must approve funding on a project-by-project basis — and Bezan said that hasn't been done.
"There's no money to do the things Sajjan is out there talking about," he said. "We are still dealing with the problems of getting procurement done in a timely manner and getting it done on budget."
The head of a defence industry group — Sajjan's audience as he made the announcement — said the government does deserve credit for consulting more about projects ahead of time, but there are obvious shortcomings.
"Any time funding moves to the right, it is a predictability problem for us. We want as as predictable and as stable funding as we can get," said Christyn Cianfarani, the president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries.
"I still think, systemically, there is a problem and if we don't turn it upside down and shake it — the whole procurement system — and do things differently ... many, many things differently, we'll still see sluggishness in the procurement system."
He said the Liberal investment plan is not "aspirational" and states clearly where the cash is coming from.
The Conservative guidebook in the end "did not deliver for the men and women in uniform," Sajjan told the audience of defence contractors.
October 14, 2022 | Local, Naval
The labour dispute has entered its second month.
May 31, 2019 | Local, Aerospace, Security
Michael Petsche Helicopters are pretty awesome devices. Even when you understand the physics of how they work, it's still a wonder that the combination of whirling bits and pieces can result in flight. These magnificent machines put out fires, string powerlines, erect towers, pluck people in distress from mountains, and save countless lives. But here's the thing: a brand new, factory-spec helicopter right off the production line can't do any of those things. Flip through the pages of any issue of Vertical, and in almost every photo, the aircraft has been fitted with some type of special equipment. A firefighting machine will have a cargo hook for the bucket, a bubble window, an external torque gauge, pulse lights and a mirror. A search-and-rescue aircraft will have a hoist. Air ambulances are filled with lifesaving equipment. And very little of that stuff comes directly from the airframe original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Instead, this equipment is in place thanks to supplemental type certificates (STCs). As the name implies, an STC is required for an installation that supplements the original aircraft type certificate. It needs to meet all of the same requirements as the aircraft that it's installed upon. Therefore, it must undergo the same kind of testing, analysis, and scrutiny that the aircraft does. How do regulatory authorities ensure that supplementary equipment meets the same standards as the aircraft they're designed to augment? Through people like me. I am a Transport Canada Design Approval Representative (DAR), also known as a delegate. A DAR does not actually work for Transport Canada, but is delegated to act on its behalf to make findings of compliance in a particular field of specialty — such as structures, avionics, or as a flight test pilot. To secure an STC, not only must a modification meet the same standards as the original aircraft, but it has to be shown not to degrade the safety of the aircraft. Let's take the firefighting helicopter as an example. The bubble window needs to be strong enough to withstand the aerodynamic loads in flight. In order to verify this, a structural test can be done on a test rig. However, the bubble window protrudes from the aircraft, resulting in extra drag. It could adversely affect how the aircraft behaves, or reduce climb performance, or have an effect on the pitot-static system. These are the sorts of issues that flight testing is meant to uncover. Similarly, if someone wants to upgrade an old GPS system to the latest and greatest model, testing must be done to ensure that there is no electrical interference between the new unit and any other existing systems on the aircraft. A big part of the STC process is determining just how you can prove that a modification meets the regulations. Does it need to be tested or is a stress analysis enough? Or is it a combination of the two — or another method entirely? And on top of that, which regulations are applicable? And furthermore, which version of the regulations needs to be applied? The rules for the Airbus H125, for example, are not the same as for the Bell 429. It's the role of the DAR (with concurrence from the regulator, in my case Transport Canada) to make these kinds of determinations. While the STC process is technically uniform, the scope can vary widely from one project to another. Changing a seat cushion or changing an engine type can both be STCs. The execution of a project can take many forms, and is dependent on a huge number of factors, including the DAR, the project scope, the resources available, and the end user. In my current role, I work largely on my own. The process typically begins with me submitting an application to open the project with Transport Canada. I prepare the documents and drawings, and witness and document any required testing. Then I compile it all and submit it to Transport Canada. Through all this, I will rely heavily on the end user to provide their insight and expertise — and their facilities. After all, it's their aircraft, and they are the ones who will ultimately be installing, using, and maintaining the STC kit — so it has to make sense to them. Whenever possible, I will have documents and drawings reviewed by the maintenance team to make sure that theory and reality align. Becoming a delegate How does someone become a delegate? In Canada, it begins with an educational requirement. You must have an engineering degree, or have, in the opinion of Transport Canada, equivalent experience. In other words, if someone has many years of applicable experience, they can be eligible to be a delegate, even if they do not have an engineering degree. A prospective delegate must also successfully complete the Aircraft Certification Specialty Course. This is a two-week intensive course that covers the ins and outs of aircraft certification: type certification, STCs, Change Product Rule and so on. And yes, there are exams! Next is a one-year working relationship with Transport Canada. The process for becoming a delegate is not uniform, with the one-year timeline more of a guideline than a rule. In my case, it took less than 12 months. Prior to beginning my process, I had the good fortune of working for a talented delegate for many years. He taught me how it “should be done.” I was given the opportunity to fly at 170 knots indicated airspeed in AStars pointed at the ground during flight tests; I snapped bolts while piling steel plates onto structures during structural tests; and I wrote numerous supporting reports for many kinds of STCs for many different aircraft types. My mentor is a (sometimes maddeningly) meticulous guy. Everything we did was thorough and correct. So, by the time I was presenting my own work to Transport Canada, it was evident that I already had a pretty firm grasp on the process. As a result, my delegation was granted before a full year. During the period while I was building my relationship with Transport Canada, my friends would ask if I had to accomplish certain specified milestones or achieve specific “levels.” The short answer is: not really. In fact, it's about building trust. It's almost counter-intuitive that in an industry with such strict regulations, granting delegation to someone is, to a large degree, based on a “warm, fuzzy feeling.” Ultimately, Transport Canada must have confidence in the delegate. Let's face it, we are in a business with tight schedules and high price tags. There can be a lot of pressure, financial or otherwise, to meet deadlines — and things can go wrong. Parts can fail under ultimate loading during a structural test. That cursed Velcro can fail the flammability test. And when these things happen, it can be the delegate that incurs the wrath of the angry operator who really needs to get his aircraft flying. Transport Canada must have the confidence that not only does the delegate have the technical knowledge and ability, but that they have the intestinal fortitude to stand firm under what can sometimes be difficult circumstances. There's the somewhat cynical axiom that the only way for an aircraft to be 100 percent safe is to never let it fly. I have heard many tales of woe and misery about people's dealings with Transport Canada and how the regulator was being “unreasonable” about X, Y, or Z. I'm of the opinion that these instances often stem from poor communication — on both sides. This is another area where the DAR can help. The DAR often acts as a liaison (or translator) between the operator and Transport Canada. Operators don't necessarily spend that much time studying design regulations. And similarly, Transport Canada engineers may not be fully familiar with the day-to-day challenges and obligations of aircraft operations. As a DAR, I speak the same language as Transport Canada. But I also spend a great deal of time in hangars, so I am also fluent in “aircraft operator.” This level of bilingualism can alleviate misunderstandings. And with a little strategic communication, everyone involved can be satisfied a lot sooner. Not surprisingly, communication and open dialogue between the DAR and the regulator is just as crucial. It has been my experience that Transport Canada wants to help get projects completed. They are aviation geeks, just like the rest of us, and they want to “Git ‘er done.” Because I have developed a solid relationship with Transport Canada, if ever I find myself struggling with something, I can call them and ask for guidance. Obviously it's not their job to fix the issue for me, but they are there to help. Whether they point me at an Advisory Circular that I wasn't aware of, or they draw from their own experience, 99 times out of 100, talking it through with them yields a solution very quickly. We all want to keep aircraft flying — safely. And we all have our different roles to play. As a DAR, I enjoy being the go-between for the regulatory world and the operational world. The challenge of getting them to work and play nicely together can be pretty fun — and a big part of accomplishing that goal requires earned trust and open communication. https://www.verticalmag.com/features/what-does-a-dar-do/
July 18, 2018 | Local, Aerospace
Au deuxième jour du Salon international de l'aéronautique de Farnborough au Royaume-Uni, mardi, l'industrie québécoise a été plus active, notamment gr'ce à Héroux-Devtek, qui a décroché un contrat militaire auprès de Boeing. Présente au plus important rendez-vous du secteur cette année, l'entreprise de Longueuil a indiqué mardi avoir été retenue par le géant américain pour la fabrication du train d'atterrissage principal des avions de chasse Super Hornet F18 et du EA-18G Growler. La valeur de l'entente n'a pas été précisée, mais Héroux-Devtek sera également responsable de la fabrication de pièces de rechange destinées aux nouveaux appareils ainsi qu'aux quelque 700 avions F18 de la flotte de l'armée américaine. « Nous sommes ravis d'avoir été choisis, a indiqué le président et chef de la direction de la société québécoise, Gilles Labbé. Ceci confirme nos liens de plus en plus étroits avec Boeing et représente une avancée importante pour nos activités du secteur de la défense. » Les premières livraisons doivent débuter à compter du troisième trimestre de 2020. Héroux-Devtek fait déjà affaire avec Boeing dans le cadre d'un important contrat pour la fabrication des trains d'atterrissage des avions de ligne 777 et 777X – en plus d'être responsable de la fabrication de pièces de rechange – ainsi que ceux de l'hélicoptère militaire Chinook. L'analyste Benoît Poirier, de Desjardins Marchés des capitaux, a souligné que cette nouvelle entente démontrait que Héroux-Devtek était capable d'élargir ses liens d'affaires avec le géant américain. « L'annonce confirme également, selon nous, que Boeing demeure engagée à l'égard du Canada en dépit de la récente dispute commerciale entre l'entreprise et Bombardier [à propos de la C Series] », a-t-il écrit dans une note. Derek Spronck, de RBC Marchés des capitaux, a pour sa part estimé que ce nouveau contrat venait ouvrir la porte à une croissance significative des revenus de la société d'ici 2020. À la Bourse de Toronto, le titre de Héroux-Devtek a bondi en début de séance, se rapprochant temporairement de son sommet annuel de 16,75 $. Le titre a finalement terminé la séance à 15,40 $, en hausse de 10 cents, ou 0,65 %, par rapport à son cours de clôture de lundi. D'autres annonces effectuées par la délégation québécoise présente à Farnborough : La société française spécialisée dans les services techniques et industriels Groupe NSE et Drakkar, un fournisseur canadien de services d'impartition, vont créer plus de 100 emplois à Montréal sur 3 ans dans le cadre de la mise sur pied d'une entreprise de services techniques et logistiques. Le gouvernement Couillard prêtera 11,5 millions de dollars sans intérêt à Esterline CMC Électronique, qui modernisera son usine montréalaise au coût de 24,4 millions de dollars, notamment afin de consolider 93 emplois. Safran Systèmes d'atterrissage Canada, qui fait partie du groupe industriel français Safran, reçoit une aide de deux millions de dollars de Québec afin de moderniser son usine de Mirabel. Ce projet est évalué à 11,8 millions de dollars. Aéro Montréal et Aerospace Wales Forum, la grappe aérospatiale du Pays de Galles, ont convenu d'un rapprochement afin de simplifier l'accès aux entreprises québécoises et galloises aux maîtres d'œuvre et à leurs chaînes d'approvisionnement. Le Consortium de recherche et d'innovation en aérospatiale au Québec, le Consortium en aérospatiale pour la recherche et l'innovation au Canada et le Hamburg's Center of Applied Aeronautical Research ont signé une entente de coopération entourant la recherche collaborative. https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1113261/boeing-avions-chasse-hornet-f18-train-atterissage-industrie-quebec-royaume-uni