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Aerospace Firms get Big Windfall

Military Transport maintenance contracts coming to Winnipeg Aerospace Companies
Photo Credit: Images provided by Wikimedia, Editing by WinnipegFirst

Executives from Boeing and Lockheed Martin along with Federal cabinet ministers announced $341 million worth of work for Western Canadian companies on Wednesday. The recent purchase of military transport aircraft by the Federal Government requires maintenance contracts for upkeep of these new aircraft which should start arriving in approximately three years time. This is a major boon for Winnipeg’s aerospace industry as it is the second largest in Canada.

The aircraft which have been purchased from Boeing and Lockheed Martin are 4 C-17 Globemaster III tactical airlift transports and 17 C-130J Super Hercules transports respectively. Part of the deal that the Federal government made was that the bulk of the maintenance of these aircraft would be awarded to Canadian aerospace companies.

Earlier this week another announcement was made in Quebec, the largest aerospace industry in Canada, for $660 million. Atlantic Canada will also receive work amounting to approximately $294 million.

The two aerospace companies in Winnipeg, Boeing Winnipeg and Standard Aero, employ a few thousand people as its current workforce. While this new influx of work is not expected to create new jobs, it is expected to provide some job security for its employees over the next decade or two. While the announcement on Wednesday did not mention who would be receiving the expected work, the two companies are seen to have a unique position by virtue that they already work on similar aircraft, and that Standard Aero is the only company in North America that is certified to work on the engines powering the C-130J engines built by Rolls-Royce.

Another very large 20 contract involving maintenance of the new C-130J engines has not yet been announced. That contract alone is expected to be worth several hundred million dollars.

NDP MP Pat Martin voiced dissatisfaction with the announcement on Wednesday indicating that Manitoba was not getting its fair share. However senior industry officials did not believe there was enough evidence to warrant accusations of unfair treatment. It has also been noted that a Winnipeg company is likely a frontrunner when the big contract does get announced.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press, Jan. 24, 2008 (page B6)

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Ross McDowall of Visual Lizard

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