Aviation night in Canada

WINNIPEG – This city of about 700,000 people at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in the central plains of Canada is noted for many things. Winnie the Pooh for one. A departed, but sorely missed NHL hockey team, for another.

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But Winnipeg, and the province of Manitoba are known for something else – they just happen to have a long and significant history in the field of aviation.

In fact right now all of Canada is celebrating the 100th year of powered flight in 2009.

I had the opportunity to take part in some of the festivities at the Western Aerospace Alliance Conference over the past week.

And one of the highlights had to be an evening event marking the Centennial of Flight in which leaders of Canada’s aerospace industry, as well as those from the U.S. and UK were treated to an audio-visual tour through a century of aerospace achievements.

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An evening to remember – marking the Centennial of Flight in Canada.

For me the event began with a reception and aircraft display at the Stevenson Aviation & Aerospace Training Centre – Red River College, near the Winnipeg Airport. The Stevenson campus is training current and future aircraft maintenance engineers and other skilled workers for Manitoba’s aviation industry.

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The Stevenson Aviation reception featured a “Centennial of Flight Tribute” – with some genuine Canadian commercial and military aircraft on display, such as this Douglas DC-3 Dakota (top photo). And I got to pose with one of the famous Canada Forces Snowbirds aircraft.

Seeing the Canada heritage aircraft was a good intro for the next couple of days where I had the chance to talk about the future of our business with colleagues, and in my formal remarks, share Boeing’s view of the commercial airplanes market environment.

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One of my presentation slides told the story of Canada and Boeing Commercial Airplanes in numbers.

I started out my presentation mentioning that, by the way, when we talk about the Centennial of Flight here in Canada, Boeing has been partnered with Canada for almost that entire history – since 1919, or 90 years!

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March 3, 1919: William Boeing and pilot Eddie Hubbard flew 60 letters from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle in Boeing’s C-700 airplane - the first international airmail to reach the United States.

I had a little fun showing the photo above, of Bill Boeing back in 1919 in front of a C-700. “The original C-Series,” I joked. That got a few laughs.

At least I think it did. Okay, so I’m no Don Cherry, but I tried.

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Vic Gerden, Executive Director of the Manitoba Aerospace Association presented the speakers with a set of Canada postage stamps honoring the Silver Dart - the aircraft that conducted the first Canadian powered flight back in 1909 over the frozen waters of Nova Scotia for a thrilling and chilling 800 meters at a shocking speed of 65 kilometers per hour.

Winnipeg itself has a special place in the history of flight in Canada, not the least of which because it’s the location of one of Boeing’s key fabrication sites. Boeing Canada Operations in Winnipeg is the biggest aerospace composite manufacturer in Canada, and employs more than 1,300 people.

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My colleague, Willy Geary, president of Boeing Canada Operations, Ltd. in Winnipeg, addressed members of the industry at the conference.

Boeing Winnipeg is a “Tier 1” partner on the 787 Program, manufacturing the Dreamliner’s wing-to-body fairing, main landing gear doors, and other parts. Boeing Winnipeg also supply parts for the 737, 747-8, 767, and 777 airplanes.

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Speaking of flight, check out the waving flags. Winnipeg’s famously windy corner, Portage & Main, in the center of the city, is purported to be one of the most blustery spots in North America. Some also claim Winnipeg is one of the coldest cities anywhere, but I certainly enjoyed a warm welcome.

As it happens, we’ve just posted a new issue of Boeing Frontiers, featuring a package of stories titled, “North Stars” – about our Winnipeg operations, and about our partners and partnerships across Canada, on the commercial as well as the defense side of our business.

It’s a good read, especially if you weren’t aware of all the things going on in Canada’s aviation industry today.

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Earlier this year we launched the Boeing Canada Web site in both English and French. Click on the image to go to the site.

So yes, Boeing and Canada is a partnership almost as long, and nearly as inseparable as hockey and Canada!

And while the Winnipeg Jets NHL franchise may not be returning anytime soon (although there is always hope) – there will most certainly be a long and sustaining partnership ahead for Boeing jets in Winnipeg, in Manitoba, and across Canada.

Comments (5)

Kinbin (Taipei Taiwan):

Alas, you have brought back the memory of the Jets.

Ice hockey runs through the blood veins of Canada, through all the people in all the provinces. Now ice hockey simply does not belong in deserts. Money can't buy love nor passion for ice hockey. Them desert critters are no match for the ice. We can see them already freezing to 'death'.

So, on another note, does Boeing intend to sponsor an ice hockey team in Manitoba? Winnipeg again? It would be great to have 2 bidders (along with Research In Motion - your Blackberry inventor) to get an ice hockey team and maybe the Great One as well back into the Canada again.

If the Boeing-sponsored team got into playoffs and eventually win Stanley Cups, I would not be surprised if Canada switches to an all-Boeing commercial fleet at all the Canadian airlines and all-Boeing military fleets by the RCAF.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Canada has always been a strong contributor to the world of aviation and has helped us in the purchasing, development and construction of our own aircraft.

albert ravelo (winnipeg operation):

Just can't wait 'til the big bird flies.....I've been with 787 program since the start and i just can't wait until i see it flying in the open skies.

Chris C (South Africa):

Thanks for sharing all this information on Boeing's partnership with Canada! It's truly interesting to read all about it, and whilst I'm still trying to page through the Frontiers article, what I've read so far is very interesting! It's broadening my understanding on just how much Canada is apart of Boeing's success and even aviation for that matter. Boeing sure has a good supply partner here.

Carly Geary (winnipeg canada) (winnipeg canada):

i would just like to say that Boeing is a great company. and William Geary is my dad, no joke.

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