Monday, November 21, 2016

The US Military, CSeries, Roland Berger, Bell, MDA, Airships & Minister Bains at the 2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit

          By Brian Orlotti

Notable not only for its record breaking 1100+ exhibitors and participants, but also as the platform for the release of major new projects and strategic discussions on economic issues, sustainable development and global change, the 2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit wrapped up in Ottawa on November 15th after a successful two day run.

Here are some of the more interesting presentations and discussions.

A full house at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa on the first day of the Summit. As outlined in the November 17th, 2016 Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) press release, "2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit Concludes; Attracts Largest Audience Ever," the Summit "brings together industry executives and government decision makers for two days of meetings, networking, and high-level presentations on aerospace growth and competitiveness." The Canadian Aerospace Summit is hosted by the AIAC. Photo c/o Brian Orlotti

The Summit’s first talk, ‘Defense Innovation -- Must be a Team Game,’ was given by retired US Vice Admiral William Landay.
Bill Landay. Photo c/o Linked-In.
Landay made the case that while military innovation has traditionally been driven within the military industrial base and targeted toward specific military needs, many of today’s commercial technologies also have great applicability in this area. 
He argued that US military culture has become too risk-adverse and conservative (with too may regulations and standards) and must change in order to adapt to new threats. 
Military organizations need to create an environment that encourages commercial companies, individual inventors and university researchers to work with them. Landay noted the growing blur between commercial and military technologies, citing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as an example.
He also discussed non-state actors’ (i.e. terrorist/insurgent groups) rapid adoption of commercial techologies for battlefield use, for instance their use of UAVs for reconaissance and weapon targeting. 
Landay concluded that, in the future, most military technologies will be commercially derived.
Not all the activities at the Summit were wrapped around dense power-point presentations. As outlined in the November 16th, 2016 AIAC press release, "Rob Dewar and the CSeries Aircraft Program Team Named the 2016 Recipient of the James C. Floyd Award for Aerospace Achievement," there was also time to celebrate past successes.  As outlined in the press release, annual the James C. Floyd Award was "established in 2009 in honour of the chief engineer on the Avro Arrow project. AIAC’s James C. Floyd Award for aerospace achievement is an annual award that honours exceptional contributions to the Canadian aerospace sector. Nominations are submitted by AIAC members and evaluated by an independent review panel (and) presented during the Canadian Aerospace Dinner, which is held at the annual Canadian Aerospace Summit." Photo c/o AIAC.

Manfred Hader, a senior partner at the global consulting firm Roland Berger, discussed ‘The Digital Aerospace Supply Chain: A New Paradigm Or Just A Fad?’ 
Manfred Hader. Photo c/o Finance.
Hader discussed digital technologies’ transformative effects on the aerospace supplychain and the aerospace industry’s slow adoption of electronic interchange of order and inventory information between parts suppliers and clients, despite their ability to greatly reduce production and development times (in marked contrast to its rapid adoption in the retail and manufacturing sectors).
He also talked about the steadily increasing use of 3D printing, citing examples such as Local Motors 3D printing cars in localized micro-factories and the US Navy and Maersk Line 3D printing spare parts aboard ships. 
Hader spoke of Airbus working with Uber to adapt its ride-sharing software platform for helicopters and flying cars. Also mentioned was Airbus’ partnership with IBM to provide a cloud-based analytics service that can optimize life cycle management, increasing an aircraft’s ROI by 25%. 
Hader concluded saying that digital transformation will require a new mindset in the aerospace industry and that those who do not adopt it will miss out on opportunities and thus perish.
Costa Rica trade minister Alexander Mora, with AIAC president Jim Quick (both seated) on the second day of the summit, preparing to sign a memo of understanding between AIAC and the Costa Rica Aerospace Cluster (CRAC).  Photo c/o Brian Orlotti.

Mitch Snyder, the president and CEO of Bell Helicopter, spoke about some of his company’s current projects, most notably the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X and its advanced avionics.
Mitch Snyder. Photo c/o Bell.
The Bell 505s are scheduled to replace the Canadian Coast Guard’s decrepit fleet of Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopters. 
Synder said the production line for the Bell 505s was relocated from Lafayette, Louisiana to Mirabel, Quebec earlier this year. Bell’s Canadian workforce had been subjected to numerous layoffs over the past few years that have left it at less than half its peak number of 2,000. 
Bell’s other current projects include the V-290 Valor tilt-rotor transport/gunship (a replacement for the US Army’s Blackhawk and Apache choppers), the Bell 525 Relentless medium-lift helicopter with fly-by-wire and advanced sensor suite and the V-247 Vigilant tilt-rotor combat unmanned aerial vehicle
Synder stated Bell Helicopter’s view that tilt-rotor craft are beginning to displace traditional helicopters.
Don Osborne on stage during the first day of the Summit. Photo c/o Brian Orlotti.

Don Osborne
, the president of the information systems group at MacDonald Detwiller (MDA), spoke at the Summit in lieu of new CEO Howard Lance (who, although scheduled to attend, developed a “not too serious” respiratory infection and stayed home to convalesce).
Howard Lance. Photo c/o Twitter.
After a lengthy recitation of the company’s early history and achievements, Osborne briefly mentioned MDA’s incorporation in Delaware and Mr. Lance’s appointment as the company’s US-based CEO, then capped it off with a statement of MDA’s pride in being Canadian. 
Osborne stated MDA’s view that the Canadian government must invest more in space just as other industrialized nations have. 
He welcomed the new Liberal government, but warned that it must “fulfill its youthful promise,” and said that MDA approves of the Liberals’ Innovation Strategy, but emphasized the need for a "long-term space plan," to prevent Canada from losing its space leadership. 
Responding to a direct question from the audience regarding Mr. Lance’s appointment and its consequences, Osborne stated that MDA had decided to pursue the US market some years ago but that Lance has “no lack of enthusiasm for what happens north of the border” and is “as enthusiastic, if not more so, for what happens in Canada.”
Only one day after the Summit concluded, Lockheed Martin announced the first contract for its hybrid airship project. As outlined in the November 16th, 2016 Fortune post, "Lockheed's Hybrid Airship Gets Launch Customer in Canada," Montreal, PQ based Quest Rare Minerals, has signed a memorandum of understanding to lease the airships as part of its plans to develop a rare earth metal project in northern Quebec, where the airships will be used for transportation and haulage. The total contract is expected to be worth up to $850Mln USD ($1,143Bln CDN) including fuel costs, and cover a 10-year period. Graphic c/o Lockheed Martin.

One of the Summit’s marquee presentations was that of Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson. Hewson outlined two initiatives of particular relevance to Canada’s North.
Marillyn Hewson. Photo c/o LM.
She first discussed Lockheed Martin’s hybrid airship project. 
A cross between a blimp and a hovercraft, the airships’ helium-filled chambers have enough lift to haul up to 21,000 kgs of cargo, plus up to 19 passengers. 
With a cruising speed of about 110 kph, they can travel a distance of nearly 2,600 kms. An air cushion landing system enables the hybrid airships to touch down nearly anywhere (land, water or ice) with no ground infrastructure needed. 
Lockheed believes that hybrid airships could revolutionize remote transportation. Hybrid airships could provide a cheaper and greener alternative to the expensive airplanes and helicopters that remote northern Canadian mining operations and communities currently rely on for delivery of basic necessities. Hybrid airships burn less than one tenth the fuel of a helicopter per ton, saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Lockheed is working with Transport Canada to certify hybrid airships.
Hewson also announced Lockheed’s partnership with four Northern communities to establish a pilot program for sustainable energy ‘microgrid’ systems. 
Designed to help reduce off-grid communities’ reliance on diesel generators, the microgrids will consist of sun-tracking solar panels connected to batteries. Monitored by software, the system will be able to switch between generator and battery power as needed. Once fully implemented, Lockheed projects a 40 percent reduction in the amount of diesel fuel used across these communities, in turn reducing carbon emissions by 160,000 tons per year. 
If successful, the company plans to market the microgrids to developing nations seeking energy independence and sustainability.
Minister Bains during a media scrum on the second day of the Summit. Photo c/o Brian Orlotti.

The capstone to the Summit was a speech by the minister of innovation, science and economic development, Navdeep Bains. Among the many points he touched upon:
The Federal Government will revive the Space Advisory Board. 
As outlined in the November 14th, 2014 post, "Industry Minister Moore Announces Space Advisory Board Members," the board was originally created by the previous Conservative government as one of the recommendations of the 2012 David Emerson led Aerospace Review
It originally came with a mandate to report on the direction of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), but never released a public report. 
Canada’s "New Space Strategy" will be launched in June 2017. 
The expectation/hope from various space advocacy groups, such as the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) and others, is that this new, but so far unnamed strategy will bear more than a passing resemblance to the traditional Canadian perception of a dense and detailed "long-term space plan" as discussed in posts like the February 15th, 2010, "Ottawa Citizen:" Where did that Long Term Space Plan Go?"
Besides, as outlined in the October 13th, 2015 post, "Part 2: Abandoning the Emerson Aerospace Review?," both the Liberals and NDP made promises to produce one of those more detailed reports during the last election. 
Given that the Liberals actually won the election, perhaps they should follow-through on their campaign promise, just so long as any document produced is in compliance with the governments larger innovation policy.
Canada needs more science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers. 
The Federal government is taking a multi-pronged approach by acting to reduce foreign worker visa-processing times down to 2 weeks; working to ensure that Colleges and Universities are aligned with "the needs of the aerospace industry;" expanding the scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) credit program to provide more research and development (R&D) money to small companies and “unlocking” more Federal R&D money via multi-year funding plans.
An overview of the ministers talking points are included with the November 16th, 2016 Federal government press release, "Setting the stage for a globally competitive aerospace and space industry in Canada."

The 2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit provided a forum for enabling the Canadian aerospace industry to adapt to current challenges while securing its future. The Commercial Space Blog congratulates the AIAC on a smooth and worthwhile event.
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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