Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo roars into Abbotsford

The two-day conference was an important opportunity for industry suppliers, manufacturers, and government officials to mingle and meet. Howard Slutsken Photo
Thursday’s official opening of the 2016 Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo (ADSE) was punctuated by the roar of fighter jets and warbirds, arriving and practicing for this year’s Abbotsford International Air Show.
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Hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), the two-day conference at the Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Centre (Tradex) saw a full slate of sessions and events. It was an important opportunity for industry suppliers, manufacturers, and government officials to mingle and meet. 
“This year was excellent. We really focussed on a high-caliber, content-rich program,” said Mike Mueller, vice-president of operations and communications for AIAC Pacific. “Our ‘business-to-business’ sessions this year have been a huge hit, with over 160 meetings.”
John Maris, AIAC chair and president of Marinvent Corporation, kicked off the conference with a review of an AIAC initiative that encourages companies to develop consortium models, recognizing the small size of the Canadian industry on the global stage. 
“The people that are the most like us are our closest competitors, are they not? We don’t have the size and scale to be able to afford luxuries such as competing with our own potential best partners,” said Maris. 
Supply chain development was addressed, along with breakout sessions with a number of major British Columbia aerospace companies.
In a boost to the B.C. industry, the Hon. Amrik Virk, B.C. minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services, announced Boeing is planning to open a downtown Vancouver data analytics lab, adding to the 200 employees at the company’s Richmond, B.C., facilities. He welcomed the 400 registrants in the packed room, and noted that for the first-time, the conference was playing host to visitors from Jordan.
Imad Ghwein is chief executive officer of the Jordan Aeronautical-systems Company, a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) organization based in Amman. His team was in Abbotsford to visit Cascade Aerospace, looking to enhance relationships the two companies, and the Jordanian and Canadian governments, already have in place. 
“We took advantage of this event to have a look at the aviation industry in Canada and British Columbia,” said Ghwein.
Sessions included a review of opportunities in India; panelists sharing their experiences of doing business in the Asia Pacific region; and a forum focussed on the procurement environment related to Canada’s new defence strategy.
Friday’s “Super Sessions” gave high-level presenters the opportunity to share their perspective on the industry, as well as showcasing their company’s successes and initiatives. KF Aerospace president Tracy Medve led off the day, and other presenters included Boeing’s Bob Noble, vice-president of supplier development; WestJet’s president and CEO, Gregg Saretsky; and RCAF Commander LGen Michael Hood.
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In a presentation introducing Lockheed Martin’s hybrid airship technology, Grant Cool, chief operating officer of Hybrid Enterprises, showed the opportunities offered by what he describes as a “ferry boat in the sky.” 
With air-cushion landing gear, the LMH-1 hybrid airship has the potential to serve Canada’s north, carrying up to 21,000 kilograms of cargo and up to 19 passengers to unimproved landing areas. Hybrid Enterprises’ booth was one of the most popular at ADSE, with people lining up to fly a hybrid airship simulator.
In 2017, ADSE and the Canadian Business Aviation Association’s (CBAA’s) annual convention will be held in conjunction with the Abbotsford International Air Show, from Aug. 9 to 11. 
“It’s going to be incredibly exciting,” said Mueller. “We’re forming a great relationship with CBAA. It’ll give our delegates access to more of the industry, and vice versa. The relationship between the two organizations is very complementary.”

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