Electronic Products & Technology

Boeing’s $240M investment in Quebec flies with drones, greener planes

By Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press   

Automation / Robotics Electronics Engineering airplanes drones transportation

Boeing Co. has pledged $240 million toward a Montreal-area aerospace cluster, anchoring a provincial plan that aims to make Quebec a global launchpad for development of drones and greener aircraft.

The beleaguered plane maker’s commitment comprises a big chunk of the $415 million in contributions from the private sector and the province toward an aero “innovation zone” announced at an industry conference on Tuesday.

It also makes good on a portion of Boeing’s obligation to pour money into Canada as part of a multibillion-dollar sole-source deal for surveillance planes signed with the federal government last year.

While Boeing’s pledge makes up nearly three-quarters of the private sector investments, more than a dozen other companies are also investing in the cluster, centred around three hubs in the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent as well as the suburbs of Longueuil and Mirabel.

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The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 13, 2021. Boeing Co. is expanding its sizeable footprint in Canada, becoming the anchor tenant of a new innovation zone in the Montreal area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Richard Drew

“Quebec is now the only place in the world where the three aviation giants Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier are directly present,” said Premier François Legault in French. “That says a lot about the quality of our business environment, but also about the talent of the Quebec workforce and the quality of research done here.”

The government will inject $85 million in funding to help launch the aerospace hot spot, Legault said. Boeing’s investment includes a $110-million development centre in Saint-Laurent, a $95-million push to grow Boeing subsidiary Wisk Aero as it fledges an electric flying taxi prototype, and a collaboration with landing gear maker Héroux-Devtek.

Aviation and engineering streams

“This one’s a no-brainer,” said Boeing Global president Brendan Nelson in an interview at the International Aerospace Innovation Forum on Tuesday, pointing to Montreal’s four universities and various colleges with aviation and engineering streams.

Research will focus on everything from engine and plane design for more efficient flights to improved batteries for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft — flying taxis — he said, noting the company’s 500-plus Canadian suppliers across the country.

Closing the door on Bombardier

Nelson also cited the federal government’s selection of Boeing to replace the military’s aging patrol planes in a $10.3-billion deal, closing the door on Quebec-based business jet maker Bombardier Inc., which had been pushing for an open bid. Cabinet green-lit in November the purchase of 16 P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft from the U.S. manufacturing giant to replace the half-century-old CP-140 Auroras.

“This comes back off the decision made by the Canadian government to purchase the P-8,” Nelson noted.

Officials said last year that Boeing signed an agreement to provide business activities and investments in Canada equal to the value of its portion of the contract, which is $5.4 billion.

 

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