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The Future Major Platforms (FMP) Initiative

  • The Future Major Platforms (FMP) Initiative is led by the Canadian aerospace industry and managed by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada with support from member companies, Industry Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the National Research Council - Institute for Aerospace Research and several academic institutions.

    The objective of the FMP Initiative is to strategically position Canadian aerospace suppliers on the next generation of commercial platforms by prioritizing technologies and aligning government support mechanisms to facilitate targeted technology development. The rationale for the FMP Initiative, its objective, and a series of recommendations were presented in a report issued to the Minister of Industry in July 2008. This concluded phase 1 of the Initiative. Since then, there has been a great deal of progress. The government has responded to some of the Report’s key recommendations by announcing:

    • An additional $200 million in funding for the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI) (Sept. 9th, 2009);
    • Seven major changes to the IRB Policy (Sept. 24th, 2009); and,
      An additional $200 million over the next two years for NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) (Budget 2009, Canada’s Economic Action Plan).
    • Phase 2, the current phase, is focused on interacting with the 4 target OEMs (Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer), pursuing options for the creation of a national technology demonstration program and supporting the changes proposed for the Industrial Regional Benefit program.

    The Current State of the Industry

    Canada’s world-leading aerospace status was achieved due to the timely development of capabilities in specific market niches that resulted in world product mandates and world leading products. Canadian firms have a supply niche on most legacy programs. It is imperative that this market share is protected and grown.

    Aircraft production is concentrated among 4 major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs): Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer. When one of these manufacturers launches a new program a window of opportunity opens up to supply that program for a potential lifespan of 20 plus years. Examples of the significant opportunity are evident when considering the potential on the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 single-aisle replacement programs, Bombardier C-series or Embraer business jets.

    The 4 major OEMs are reducing the number of Tier 1 suppliers and requiring them to share risk, take on full design and integration of complete aircraft systems, and manage the full range of international sub-tier suppliers. The requirement to provide more value-add is pushed down through the supply chain. Suppliers need to have more capacity to take on risk by investing in programs directly, through technology development, and by supporting early production.

    Although the global aerospace market offers considerable growth opportunities, the future success of the Canadian industry cannot be taken for granted. Success depends on the industry’s capacity to transition from legacy platforms to the new major platforms. The industry will need to increase its efficiency, to innovate, and to find new solutions to develop safer, greener and more cost effective aircraft, both from initial procurement cost and from operating efficiency points of view.

    The Shifting Context

    Canada faces a growing number of emerging competitors who are strategically engaged in aerospace (e.g. China, Japan, Russia, India, Mexico, etc.) and are positioning themselves to win work packages on future platforms.

    In order for Canada to maintain its leadership, the FMP initiative is advocating the need for strong continuous partnership among Industry, government, academia and OEMs to identify new leading edge niche technologies and work packages to help Canadian industry excel in the early stages of new programs.

    The FMP Initiative also recognizes a need for:

    • A stronger systems integrator capacity that is able to share development costs with OEMs and offer more complete or all-encompassing solutions;
    • Increased and strategic investment in design and advanced manufacturing processes to produce more value-added products.
    • Earlier engagement of the OEMs to align technology development to their future needs

    Status of Achievements and Latest Developments

    The AIAC continues to advocate to Industry Canada for the creation of a national technology demonstrator program. There has been positive progress in the last year with continued consultations with industry representatives and key stakeholders being included in the ongoing analysis.

    The 7 recent major changes to the Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy reflect FMP recommendations. These will likely result in the creation of incentives for large OEMs to invest in FMP target technologies. (for more details see:http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ad-ad.nsf/eng/ad03921.html)

    An additional $200 million has been allocated to the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative. As such, additional resources are made available to fund projects related to FMP. (The announcement can be viewed at: http://www.actionplan.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=1893)

    An additional $200 million over two years was allocated to the NRC’s Industrial Research assistance Program (IRAP) (for more details see: http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/news/nrc/2009/04/06/irap-acadian.html)

    The Technology working group has formed three subgroups: structures, systems and propulsion. Each subgroup is responsible for 1) prioritizing the technologies necessary to participate on future platforms; 2) identifying Canadian Capabilities and gaps within the innovation process; and 3) outlining three (one per subgroup) technology demonstration programs aligned with priority technologies

    FMP OEM Working Groups – Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and Bombardier have been formed and activities are taking place aimed at aligning Canadian technology development with the OEMs future needs.

    The Future Major Platforms Initiative

    Questions and Answers

    1. What is the Future Major Platforms (FMP) Initiative?

    The FMP Initiative is a strategy that aims to position Canadian aerospace suppliers on the next generation of aircraft platforms. The FMP Initiative can be divided into 2 phases, a research and analysis phase that resulted in a report produced in collaboration with several partner organizations and the current phase which is focused is on interacting with the 4 target OEMs (Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer), pursuing options for the creation of a national technology demonstration program and supporting the changes proposed for the Industrial Regional Benefit program.

    2. What is the structure supporting the FMP Initiative?

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    FMP is led by a Steering Committee composed of the Chairs/Co-Chairs of the working groups plus representatives from partner organizations: NRC, Industry Canada and DFAIT.

    It currently has five active working groups: a Technology Working Group that, in turn, has three subgroups: Structures, Systems and Propulsion; and four OEM-related working groups: Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer. Each working group is chaired by a representative of a partner organization and is composed of several members.

    3. Who is involved in the FMP Initiative?

    Several aerospace experts from the AIAC, government, academia and industry have contributed to – and continue to collaborate on – the FMP Initiative. Partners include epresentatives from the following organizations: the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and several of its member companies and associate members, Industry Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Research Council - Institute for Aerospace Research and several academic institutions.

    4. What are the objectives of the OEM (Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer) Working Groups?

    The objectives of the OEM working groups are:

    • To gather intelligence regarding future major programs (launch dates, design elements, technology drivers and requirements, etc.);
    • To assess opportunities for Canadian industry in coordination with the Technology Working Group; and
    • To plan and execute activities to ensure significant Canadian participation on future major programs.

    5. What are the objectives of the Technology Working Group?

    • To develop a consensus amongst the stakeholders on a list of priority technologies necessary to maintain or increase Canadian participation in the future major platforms.

    • To identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the development of targeted technology areas and in particular to highlight gaps in the innovation process that need to be addressed.

    • To identify collaborative technology development opportunities as well as technology demonstration projects.

    • To liaise with the OEMs, through other FMP working groups in order to validate the list of priority technology areas and correlate with the OEMs technology needs.

    6. What are the objectives of the Technology Sub groups (Structures, Propulsion and Systems)?

    The objectives of the Technology Sub groups are:

    • To prioritize technologies within each respective area;
    • To identify Canadian capabilities and gaps within the innovation process; and
    • To outline 3 Technology Demonstration programs that are aligned with the priority technologies within the group.

    7. Why does Canada need a strategy to position the aerospace industry on Future Major Platforms?

    The Canadian aerospace industry’s world leader status was reached due to the timely development of capabilities in specific market niches that have resulted in world product mandates and world leading products. However, current platforms will soon be replaced by new aircraft that will rely on more efficient and greener technologies. Suppliers will be required to have much greater capacity to provide systems integration capability, and a much greater role in the product development. The upcoming aerospace programs are a once in a generation opportunity to supply the major platforms in commercial aerospace. In order to be well-positioned for the OEM supplier selection process for new aircraft, Canadian aerospace suppliers will need to develop new, state-of-the-art technology solutions and build required capabilities well in advance of the launch of the new programs.

    8. What are the next generation platforms?

    To prioritize resources the focus is on any all new commercial product from one of the 4 main OEMs (Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer) such as the Boeing 737, Airbus A320 single aisle replacement programs, Bombardier C-Series, and Embraer business jets. Other OEMs may be considered if sufficient opportunities present themselves.

    9. How is the FMP Initiative funded?

    The Future Major Platform Initiative benefits from in-kind support of the parties involved. AIAC provides the overall leadership; Industry Canada provides the secretariat support role; the NRC facilitates the work being done with respect to technology, innovation and R&D; and DFAIT facilitates connections between Canadian companies and targeted international OEMs. In addition, several AIAC member companies and associate members provide their time and knowledge on a voluntary basis.

    10. Who will benefit from the success of the FMP Initiative?

    Although the Initiative is focused on Canadian companies or research institutes interested in pursuing commercial aerospace work with one of the 4 main OEMs, the work of FMP is applicable to the Canadian aerospace industry as a whole. The technology development work and changes to Industry Canada policies positively affect all Canadians in aerospace.

    11. How do I get involved?

    Easy – please contact Les Aalders and let him know which working group you are interested in.