Montréal’s aerospace industry takes business to new heights


aerospace industry

The aerospace industry that has taken flight in the Greater Montréal area over the past two decades is now soaring. In fact, the area has grown into one of the largest aerospace clusters in the world next to Seattle and Toulouse, and features the second highest density of aerospace jobs globally.

Key leaders in the field flock there because of the vibrant interaction between academia, science and business, and also to tap into a rich history of accomplishments. For instance, Québec is home to Héroux-Devtek, the company that provided the landing system for Apollo’s Lunar Module when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their successful landing. It is also the birthplace of Marc Garneau, the first Canadian astronaut to fly into space, and the Canadian Space Agency was established there in 1996.

Moments like this have cleared a path for more innovations. Today, companies located in the area are responsible for designing and building some of the most advanced and successful commercial and defense aircraft in the world and honing in on niche markets like Earth observation, space robotics, exploration, maintenance, satellite communications and artificial intelligence. Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Sonaca Montréal, MDA Satellite Systems and Mecachrome Canada are just a few of the notable aerospace companies in the Greater Montréal region.

Companies keep putting roots down, and delegates cluster there in nearby spaces like the Palais des congrès de Montréal, which has become a premiere host for aerospace events. A few years ago, the Palais created an Aerospace Major Events Committee to help anchor Montréal within the industry. The taskforce is made of experts from eight Montréal aerospace sector leaders: Aéro Montréal, CRIAQ, Bombardier Aerospace, McGill University, ÉTS engineering school, National Research Council of Canada — Aerospace, Morpho Canada and Montréal International.

“By working closely, hand-in-hand to confirm these conventions, the Palais des congrès and the decision-makers who lead this important economic sector enable Montréal to continue to be one of the major aerospace capitals of the world and the city that has been hosting more international events than any other city in the Americas since 2011,” noted Raymond Larivée, president and hief executive officer of the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

Since the Committee’s inception, the convention centre continues to develop its large network of sector contacts and invest in the industry. Recently, it earmarked a fund to strengthen business ties between international convention decision-makers, Aerospace Committee members and the local aerospace community.

aerospace industry

“With more than $1 billion invested annually in R&D, the Greater Montréal region has an extraordinary innovation capacity,” says Suzanne M. Benoît, president and CEO of Aéro Montréal and co-chair of the Aerospace Major Events Committee. “It is home to most of the aerospace centres of excellence in Canada. It is also host to the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec, seven universities active in aerospace research, and more than 10 renowned public and semi-public research centres, including the Canadian Space Agency and Concordia’s Canadian Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation.”

Indeed, the economic and intellectual influence of the sector is huge. So far, some 204 companies have generated about $15.5 billion in sales in Québec, 80 per cent of which come from exports. In terms of business tourism dollars, the Palais, for instance, has generated $34 million over the past five years after welcoming 16 regional, national and international aerospace events.

Meanwhile, a community that includes manufacturers, top-notch subcontractors and suppliers, renowned OEMs and highly skilled graduates, continues to support this economy and define events.

Montréal events mean business, but they also envision what is possible. The local aerospace industry keeps reinventing itself and embracing innovation, which is why it continues to grow.

aerospace industry

Recently, the Global Supply Chain Summit, the flagship event of the International Aerospace Week – Montréal, attracted nearly 500 delegate at the Palais des congrès —a record participation, which Benoît noted was due to the relevance of a program focused on Industry 4.0—a current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, including the Internet of Things and cloud computing.

Tapping into these trends is what local experts do well. There is sharing culture in the area, one that involves knowledge, strategizing the plausible and imagining a future that isn’t necessarily light years away.

This is one reason Montréal is the number one host city in the Americas for International meetings for the fifth straight year, gathering 52 per cent of all the international events among Canadian metropolises.

To learn more about the Aerospace Major Events Committee or speak with local experts to inform your next event, please visit


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