Submarine hunters: Local businesses happy to see Ottawa favor Boeing over Bombardier

Quebec aerospace companies like CAE and Héroux-Devtek are pleased with Ottawa’s decision to award Boeing a $10.4 billion contract that Bombardier had been eyeing without a competitive bidding process.

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“This is good news for us because it puts us in a good position to win large orders in the future,” says Martin Brassard, CEO of Héroux-Devtek, a manufacturer of landing gear and other aviation components.

Boeing's P-8A multi-role aircraft

Martin Brassard Photo from the Héroux Devtek website

The federal contract covers the purchase of 14 Boeing P-8A Poseidon multi-role aircraft with the option to purchase two additional aircraft. The 10.4 billion bill also covers the purchase of relevant equipment, flight simulators, a training system, infrastructure and weapons.

Héroux doesn’t expect to benefit directly from the deal, but believes the renewal of ties between Ottawa and Boeing will create business opportunities for Canadian companies with the American giant.

Work in Quebec

At CAE, another important player in the Quebec aviation cluster, the benefits of the contract should not be long in coming.

“We will be working in Quebec from the start,” explains France Hébert, general manager of Canadian defense and security at CAE.

Boeing's P-8A multi-role aircraft

France Hébert photo from LinkedIn

The multinational will manufacture simulators at its Montreal facilities to train pilots and operators of P-8A aircraft. The device drive system is also being developed in the metropolis of Quebec.

For his part, Lorenzo Marandola, founding president of M1 Composites, hopes that Boeing will commission his company to produce certain parts for the P-8A. M1 already supplies parts for the 737, from which the P-8A is derived.

“I think we will be a good candidate for the job,” he said.

“Not at all against Bombardier”

Martin Brassard assures that his exit in favor of Boeing is not intended to denigrate Bombardier, which offered a modified version of its Global business jet for the contract.

“We are not against Bombardier at all,” he emphasizes.

The manager does not fear that the contract awarded to Boeing will cause a new division within Quebec’s aviation industry.

“If we are able to develop other champions with this debt that Boeing owes to our country [parmi les fournisseurs] Whoever will be able to take part in strategic projects involving thousands of aircraft will, in my opinion, bode well for the industry,” emphasizes Mr. Brassard.

It must be said that Boeing is an important customer for Héroux-Devtek: around $125 million of its annual sales of around $575 million come from the American manufacturer. On the other hand, Héroux sells almost nothing to Bombardier.

Scandal in 2017

Recall that in 2017, Boeing caused outrage in the country when it persuaded Washington to impose prohibitive tariffs on Bombardier C-series aircraft (now the Airbus A220).

In a press release issued Thursday, Bombardier said it was obviously disappointed with Ottawa’s decision.

“The solution we were prepared to present would have been a game-changer for the Canadian economy,” the aircraft manufacturer said. Not only would it have created and supported more than 22,000 jobs, it would have become a model as many allied countries around the world view our offering as the future of multi-role aircraft.”

According to Boeing, the 81 Canadian suppliers of goods and services for the P-8A aircraft have so far received contracts worth $2 billion. The company predicts future Ottawa planes will include more than $175 million in “Canadian content.”