Mr. Robert D. Richmond

Toronto, ON,

AIAC Honorary Life Member


Robert Dick Richmond

Birthdate: 1919
Birth Place: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Robert Dick Richmond, BSE., D.eng. (HON), was born in 1919, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and moved with his family to Toronto in 1933. He enrolled at the University of Michigan, obtaining a Bachelor degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1942. While at the University he worked at National Steel Car Co., Malton, Ontario, for two summers on the production of Westland Lysander leading-edge wing slats, and elevators. On graduation he was rejected by the RCAF on medical grounds and he was directed by the Wartime Bureau of Technical Personnel to the Mechanical Engineering Division of the National Research Council working on wind tunnel and flight test projects including development of low drag skiis for the Hurricane aircraft.

Richmond then joined Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. in Longueuil, Quebec, where he was responsible for the design and development of a target towing version of the Bristol Bolingbrook, and skiis for winter rescue of downed aircraft of the Ferry Command. He was Chief of Aerodynamics for a utility/bush aircraft, the Fairchild Husky, from its inception through certification in 1946.

In early 1947, following closure of Fairchild Aircraft Ltd., Richmond was hired by Canadair Ltd., of Montreal, for a position in a newly-formed Preliminary Design department.  In 1948, he became Section Chief of Aerodynamics, where his initial assignment was the development and certification of the Canadair IV aircraft, a derivative of the North Star aircraft and the Douglas DC-4, powered by Rolls Royce Merlin Engines.

In 1949 Richmond was appointed Chief Development Engineer that included Aerodynamics, Preliminary design, Engineering Flight Test functions and related laboratories. A position which included in 1951 , performance development of the Canadair built F-86 Sabre Mk 5 and 6.  He also led preliminary design to define a maritime patrol aircraft for the RCAF. These studies culminated in a contract being awarded in May 1954, for the Argus, a long-range patrol aircraft.

During that period, Richmond tried to interest the RCAF in a small jet trainer to replace the World War II Harvard, but received an official negative response. In early 1954, Richmond drafted a preliminary specification for a trainer which featured side by side seating and the then questionable items of pressurization and ejection seats. He then initiated and led the preliminary design into 1956 that ultimately resulted in the Canadair CL-41, the Tutor jet trainer used by the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbird Acrobatic Team.

In 1955 he was also assigned the management of the Special Weapons Section working on the Velvet Glove Missile followed in 1956 by the establishment of Missile and Systems Division to develop the Sparrow II Missile for DND and he was appointed as the Vice President. This program was cancelled in October 1958 as part of the demise of the AVRO ARROW. The Division was redirected to pursue the development of a reconnaissance drone, the CL-89 successfully used by some NATO Countries.

In April 1960, Richmond joined Canadian Pratt and Whitney Aircraft (later known as Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Canada ([PWAC]) as Vice President of Operations, and in December 1963 was appointed to the Board of Directors, and as Deputy President. He directed the production of the first 3500 PT6 and equivalent engines; and initial quantity of JT15D engines including the establishment of a Canadian Supply Chain and also guided their marketing program, i.e. for Beech King Air and Bell UH-IN.

Simultaneously, the manufacturing capacity was increased to service the world market for all PWAC piston- engine parts. He also established, in 1963, a division to partially manufacture and assemble the Sea King Helicopter for the Department of National Defence (DND).

In 1970 he joined McDonnell Douglas of Canada as President, and was named a Corporate Vice-President of the parent company. Here, he directed the manufacture of DC-9 and DC-10 wings at Malton, Ontario.

In 1974, Richmond became President, Chief Operating Officer and a Director of Spar Aerospace. Richmond guided this company in the development and marketing of space systems and sub-systems. The most notable program was the Canadarm, for which he established the industrial organization, and oversaw the first five years of its development. Before leaving Spar in 1980, Richmond directed the integration into Spar Aerospace of the Space Activities of RCA Canada and Northern Telecom, which enabled the company to become a prime contractor in the manufacture of satellites, i.e  Annik “D”.

Richmond returned to Canadair in January 1981 as Executive Vice President of Operations advancing to Chief Operating Officer in 1983 with the same responsibilities: the resolution of major problems in the Challenger 600 program that also affected sub-contracts for Boeing 767 fuselage  – section 48; the Lockheed P-3 wing; and other activities.  After meeting commitments, the company posted a profit in 1985 exclusive of previous CL600 debt.  During this period, the CL601 was developed, certified and more than 65 were delivered prior to his retirement.  It has been in production, with upgrades since 1983, with over 1000 being built by January 2018.  In 1984, he was responsible for initiating and overseeing the preliminary design and marketing of the derivative of the CL-601 that became Canadair Regional Jet.  That aircraft established the regional jet world market.

Following his retirement on January 1, 1988, he continued as a senior advisor on the CRJ program through to roll-out in 1991.


  • Fellow, a Founder and Past President of Canadian Aeronautics Institute (CAI forerunner of C.A.S.I)
  • Associate Fellow, American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Past Chairman of Canada Delegation to NATO Industry Advisory Group, 1967-70
  • Past Chairman of Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, 1972-73 and an Honorary Life Member
  • Recipient of C.D. Howe Award of C. A. S. I., 1979
  • Miscellaneous consulting including on the Canadarm II for the Canadian Space Agency
  • Past Member of the Department of Revenue Committee on Scientific Research and Experimental Development, 1989-90
  • Member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario
  • Induction in 1995 into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame; Board Member 2005-09
  • In 1998 awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering by Carleton University