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Dassault Pledges $9 Billion in Rafale Work

Dassault says Rafale can be built in Canada if it's chosen for the RCAF.
Dassault says Rafale can be built in Canada if it’s chosen for the RCAF.

Dassault has upped the ante in its upstart bid to supply the RCAF’s new fighter aircraft.

In an interview with the CBC in Montreal on Tuesday, Dassault Vice President Yves Robins said the French company will guarantee that $9 billion worth of contracts will be handed to Canadian companies if Canada chooses its Rafale fighter to replace the worn-out CF-18s that are now the country’s flrst line of defence.

Robins said the contract will also include technology transfer and maybe the opportunity to do final assembly of the aircraft in Canada.

“Should the Canadian industry wish to assemble or produce part of the Rafale in Canada, we are fully open to it,” Robins told CBC. “This is a commitment. A contractual commitment, even with penalties written in the contracts. We are not saying the Canadian industry could potentially, maybe go up to $10 (billion) or $11 billion by bidding for such-and-such contracts. We are saying we guarantee this return to the Canadian industry. It’s a totally different philosophy from some of our competitors.”

The financial commitment is seen as an aggressive game of one-upmanship aimed at a perceived weakness in Lockheed Martin’s proposal which would give Canadian companies the opportunity to bid for up to $11 billion in work against those from other countries who are partners in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. More than 30 Canadian companies are already working on parts of the F-35 under contracts worth $600 million but Lockheed Martin Vice President Steve O’Bryan told Canadian Aviator earlier this month that if Canada cancels its involvement in the program Canadian companies will be shut out of further bidding.

“We will honour the existing contracts,” he said.

Canada was one of the JSF partners until last year when the federal government called for a review of its involvement when questions about the total cost and the methods of estimating those costs were raised. The procurement was taken away from the Department of National Defense and handed to Industry Canada which has since finished its report into those questions and presented it to the government.

The choice in front of the politicians is whether to rejoin the F-35 program or launch a competitive bidding process which will allow other fighter jet manufacturers, including Dassault, to try to win the contract. Others in the running would be Boeing, with its upgraded version of the CF-18, the FA-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter.

The government hasn’t given any indication on when it might decide the fate of the fighter contract process but it has been sending signals of late that the economic factors are getting increasing weight.


Summit to Fly Workers To Diavik in RJ85

Summit Aviation will fly workers into the Diavik Diamond Mine on an RJ85.

Summit Aviation will fly workers into the Diavik Diamond Mine on an RJ85.

Summit Aviation Group will use an Avro RJ85 to fly staff of the Diavik Diamond Mine between Edmonton and the mine starting later this year. The company is supplying the aircraft in a partnership with Dene-owned Det’on Cho Logistics and First Air.

Summit President Rob Mauracher said the four-engine airliner will carry almost 90 passengers into the 5,234-foot gravel runway at Diavik’s private airport near the mine. The mine is located about 500 km. northeast of Yellowknife. More than half of its workers live in the south and rotate in and out.

“The introduction of the Avro RJ85 to Summit’s fleet is a significant change in our business model,” says Summit’s president, Rob Mauracher. “Being able to move upwards of 90 passengers to and from remote locations significantly broadens our service offering, while still providing the northern expertise in safety and reliability Summit is known for.”

The RJ85′s high-wing design gets the engines up and out of the way of gravel kicked up by the tires and a gravel kit that protects the underside of the aircraft permits operation into unimproved runways like that at Diavik.

Sunwing 737 Diverts After Severe Turbulence

A Sunwing 737 hit severe turbulence over Montana early Sunday

A Sunwing 737 hit severe turbulence over Montana early Sunday

Two Sunwing flight attendants were slightly injured and 181 passengers significantly inconvenienced when the Boeing 737 hit “extreme turbulence” east of the Rockies and made an emergency landing in Helena, Montana.

The flight was on its way from Edmonton to Puerto Vallarta with the passengers and six crew when it it the rough air. The flight crew headed for Helena after the two flight attendants suffered minor cuts and the aircraft landed about 7:30 a.m.

Helena, which is the capital of Montana, does not normally get international arrivals and the passengers had to sit on the plane for five hours before U.S. Customs officials could be found in Great Falls, 90 minutes away, to allow them into the small terminal, where they were kept in a cordoned off area.

The turbulence was bad enough that Sunwing needs to inspect the aircraft before it carries passengers so the airline had to round up another aircraft. It didn’t get to Helena until early evening and it was 6:25 p.m. before the vacationers were on their way.

The flight attendants were both cleared to continue the flight. The turbulence hit during Sunwing’s champagne service, which ended up on, rather than in, the passengers.

Associate Degree Program for ‘Future Pilots’

John and Blythe Montgomery, of Professional Flight centre, have announced a new degree program in cooperation with Douglas College.
John and Blythe Montgomery, of Professional Flight centre, have announced a new degree program in cooperation with Douglas College.

Douglas College and Professional Flight Centre, at Boundary Bay Airport near Vancouver have joined forces to provide an Associate of Arts for Future Professional Pilots program.

Students will graduate with commercial multi IFR ratings and a diploma that allows them to transfer for further academic training toward a Bachelor of Arts at accredited universities.

Professional Flight Centre specializes in IFR training and has two IFR-equipped Beech Duchesses in its fleet of 23 aircraft.  The combination with Douglas College broadens financing opportunities for students and also sets them on their way toward a university degree that is required by most airlines.

The two year course includes academic classes that fit the general skill set required by professional pilots and include three general pathways with general, geography and psychology focuses.

Professional Flight Centre holds regular information sessions on the course and more information is available here and here.

 Air Canada Cuts Caracas Flights

Air Canada is running out of legal options in its defence of a consumer protection class action suit.
Air Canada has suspended flights to Venezuela because of civil unrest.

Air Canada has suspended its thrice-weekly flights between Toronto and Caracas, Venezuela citing the civil unrest that is gripping the South American country.

“Due to ongoing civil unrest in Venezuela, Air Canada can no longer ensure the safety of its operation and has suspended flights to Caracas until further notice,” the airline said in a statement on its website.

“Air Canada will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate the reintroduction of flights with the objective of resuming operations on the route once Air Canada is satisfied that the situation in Venezuela has stabilized.”

A Tuesday flight to Caracas was cancelled, as was the return on Wednesday.

However, the government of Venezuela has other ideas about the resumption of service. President Nicolas Maduro has warned airlines that any airline that pulls out of the country will not be allowed back under his rule.