Three European aerospace firms to set up in Montreal, create nearly 200 jobs

MONTREAL – Demand for aerospace engineers will accelerate over the next few years as three European companies announced plans that create nearly 200 jobs in Montreal.

The Austrian, French and German companies said Monday they were attracted to the city because of the availability of trained workers and their ability to work with large locally based companies such as Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B).

German company PFW plans to move its Seattle-based aerospace tube and duct systems North American headquarters to Montreal.

“We’re going to basically build on our engineering capability, hopefully go forward into manufacturing also over the next two or three years and build this as our North American hub,” said Ian Sidsaff, general manager of PFW Aerospace Canada.

The firm hopes to hire about 100 people in the city over three years to join its global workforce of 2,500.

They will initially provide engineering services to the area’s large equipment manufacturers and eventually become a parts supplier for Bombardier and other customers.

PFW plans to bring in about 25 engineers from abroad and then build up and train a local workforce of graduates and other employees.

Finding skilled engineers isn’t easy given the number of Quebec aerospace companies working on new and existing programs.

But Sidsaff said the experience level in Montreal is relatively high compared with other aerospace hubs around the world.

“There’s going to be a few issues for us but we can mitigate that,” he said in an interview. The firm receive $26,000 from Quebec to fund a feasibility study.

Austrian firm FACC, which specializes in the manufacture of composite components on aircraft, plans to open an engineering office to complement its existing work on business aircraft interiors.

FACC Solutions in Canada already works on the interiors of Bombardier’s Challenger 300 business jet. It was also selected as a component supplier to the CSeries and Global business aircraft.

It recently delivered one of the final components to be added to the CSeries test aircraft. The composite fairings are part of the underbelly of the aircraft and serve to reduce drag.

Currently manufactured in Austria, the CSeries part could eventually be relocated to Montreal, he said.

FACC plans to add some 12 people to its current workforce of about 40. But that number could grow by another 20 to 40 if it adds a parts assembly line.

Meanwhile, LGM of France plans to invest more than $2 million and add 20 workers to develop its business in Canada. The company specializes in risk management and verifying that planes and railway products are safe to operate.

General manager Eric de Tocqueville said the firm is about to finalize its first contract with a large unnamed Montreal manufacturer.

“We don’t have any competitors here in Montreal and we should be able to achieve our plan in two to three years,” he said.

LGM which has a workforce of 800 in France, Germany and China decided to open a fourth centre to be close to potential customers like Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney, CAE and others.

Quebec Industrial Policy Minister Elaine Zakaib told an aerospace conference Tuesday that the announcement confirms the province’s advantages in the aerospace sector which employs more than 42,000 workers.

Meanwhile, European-based Aerolia said it is about to unveil details of its new plant that will manufacture the centre fuselage for Bombardier’s new Global 7000 and 8000 aircraft that is slated to enter into service after 2016.

About 100 engineers are already working on the component, which initially will be manufactured in France and shipped to Toronto for final assembly.

The plant is slated to open by next January and will house about 200 employees, said Aerolia Canada CEO Marie Agnes Veve.

“We are working with Bombardier for the time being. We are starting to get some other contracts with Bombardier and also for North America.”

Aerolia is a supplier to Airbus and a subsidiary of Airbus owner EADS.