Monday, June 17, 2024

Boeing invests $240M to create Montreal-area aerospace innovation zone | CBC News

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Boeing, a giant in the aircraft manufacturing business, is investing $240 million as part of a partnership with the Quebec government to create an aerospace innovation zone in the Montreal area.

The total investments for the project are worth $415 million. The Quebec government is contributing $85 million.

Premier François Legault and Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon unveiled the project Tuesday during an annual aerospace international forum held in Montreal. 

“It’s for the benefit of all the society because we create very high paid jobs,” Legault said.

But it is not simply about creating jobs for the sake of creating jobs, he said. “The objective, if we want to create wealth, is to replace lower-paying jobs with better-paid jobs.”

Quebec Premier François Legault speaks at the International Aerospace Innovation Forum in Montreal on Tuesday. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)

Boeing Co. is expanding its sizeable footprint in Canada by becoming the anchor tenant of this project and bolstering its presence in a country where it already has more than 500 suppliers.

Boeing’s $240-million investment makes up the bulk of the $330 million that come from several private companies that include Pratt & Whitney Canada, Airbus, Bombardier, Flying Whales Québec and Thales Canada.

Brendan Nelson, Boeing Global president, said Montreal has the leading aviation research and development precinct in the world.

“That’s why we’re here,” he said.

The announcement comes as Boeing has been experiencing problems with its 737 Max Airliners program. Technical issues with its 737 Max Airliners have made headlines this year.

Back in March, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun announced he will step down from the company at the end of the year as part of a broader management shuffle, capping a tumultuous five-plus years that have shaken faith in one of the U.S.’s most-storied manufacturers.

Boeing says it’s working with regulators to address those issues, and Quebec’s premier said he’s confident in the company.

Several men and one woman walking toward camera
Quebec Premier François Legault, right, arrives to make an announcement at the International Aerospace Innovation Forum in Montreal on Tuesday. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)

John Gradek, a McGill University lecturer with expertise in commercial aviation management issues, said Quebec operations will be primarily research and development.

“The issues that they are having with safety, with quality on their production line, is totally separate from what they are doing in Quebec,” he said.

The plan announced Tuesday is part of a push from the Quebec government to turn the province into a leader in aerospace technology. 

The innovation zone will have operations in Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough and the cities of Longueuil and Mirabel. It will be called Espace Aéro and will be overseen by Aéro Montréal, an aerospace business strategy hub that aims to grow the industry in Quebec. It will include a development centre as well as aircraft research and training programs.

“It dovetails perfectly with not just industrial commercialization, but also research and development and so we’re very excited this plane has finally landed,” said Alan DeSousa, Saint-Laurent borough mayor.

Espace Aéro will have the mandate to “enhance the attractiveness of Quebec in the field of aerospace” and make it a “world leader in decarbonization and advanced air mobility,” according to a Tuesday news release.

The innovation zone would also be the fourth in the province. Here are the three others:

  • Sherbrooke: Quantum information.
  • Bromont: Digital technologies.
  • Bécancour, Shawanigan and Trois-Rivières: Energy transition for batteries.

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