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F-35 Contractors Press For Fighter Decision

Companies now working on F-35 components are urging the federal government to continue with a sole source process.
Companies now working on F-35 components are urging the federal government to continue with a sole source process.

Canadian companies already working on components of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) are urging the federal government to stop delaying a decision on the purchase of Canada’s future frontline fighter. They’re also laying out a case against the politically appealing option of opening a competitive bidding process for the next fighter saying it’s not only unnecessary, it could potentially cost the aerospace industry in both the short and long term. “Although competition makes for good sound bites, the reality is it has serious economic consequences,” the Canadian JSF Industry Group, which represents 35 companies that already have a total of $600 million in contracts on the F-35. Last year the federal government put its previous commitment to buy 65 F-35s on hold in the face of relentless political pressure based, in part, on an auditor general’s report that said the government was underestimating the total cost of the program. Opposition parties and the makers of other fighter aircraft have since been campaigning for an open competition. The JSF group says the competition would bring short and long-term consequences. Delaying the program would put the future renewal of existing contracts at risk because Lockheed Martin is only offering work to companies in countries that are buying the F-35. Over the long term, Canadian industry would miss out on the technology transfer from the program, putting it at a competitive disadvantage for work on other projects, too. “Let’s not put all of this at risk!” the group said. “This should not be about politics. It should be about our national capability and determining what is best for the country.” Other companies are dismissing those concerns and offering guarantees of work on their aircraft rather than the chance to bid against companies in other countries that are participating in the program.

McGill Team Enters Air Race Classic

From left, Emily Fowler, Annie Wen and Sonya Vinderskov are competing in the Air Race Classic.
From left, Emily Fowler, Annie Wen and Sonya Vinderskov are flying in the Air Race Classic.

Three young women pilots from McGill University in Montreal have entered the annual Air Race Classic transcontinental race. Annie Wen, Sonya Vinderskov and Emily Fowler will compete against more than 50 teams in the 2,400-mile race, which gets under way June 16 in Concord, Calif. and ends June 19 in New Cumberland, Pa. “We are the only Canadian collegiate team competing,” the team said in a statement. The McGill students will be flying a Piper Arrow and while the immediate goal is to finish the race with a good placing, they’re hoping for long-term benefits from the event. “Our goals for this race are to inspire young women to pursue their dreams, provide mentorship and shed light on the incredible opportunities within our community in the field of aviation,” they said. “When we return from the race in the summer, we have organized presentations at summer schools in Quebec to share our experiences.” A send-off barbecue is planned for June 1 at noon at the Montreal Soaring Council site in L’Orignal, Ont.

Gatineau Airshow Skips 2014

Wings Over Gatineau has been cancelled for 2014.
Wings Over Gatineau has been cancelled for 2014.

Organizers of Wings Over Gatineau-Ottawa Airshow have cancelled this year’s show and will instead “focus on aviation-themed events aimed at inspiring and educating young Canadians.” The show, organized by Vintage Wings of Canada, had grown into one of the largest in Canada. It featured a variety of flight demonstrations and given Vintage Wings’ emphasis on warbirds there has always been a lot of piston power at the show. Vintage Wings also said no decision has been made on the 2015 show and its status will be decided early next year. The big event for this year is the June 30 Hadfield Youth Summit, in which Vintage Wings pilot Chris Hadfield will speak to “deserving local youth” from various organizations, including Air Cadets, at the Vintage Wings hangar at Gatineau Airport. It’s open only to Vintage Wings members.

Suit Launched in Saskatchewan Midair

Wreckage from the midair collision near St. Brieux, Sask.
Wreckage from the midair collision near St. Brieux, Sask.

An Alberta woman is suing the estates of both pilots involved in the midair collision that killed her husband and son.

Bobby Joe Donovan launched the suit against the estates of family friend Denny Loree and Robert Jackson, a Regina pilot, for the collision near St. Brieux, Sask on May 12, 2014.

The suit also alleges the aircraft involved had mechanical problems and the weather conditions were “dangerous.” The Transportation Safety Board said the weather was clear at the time. It also said both aircraft had collision avoidance devices on board but they might not have been adjusted for close proximity contact with other aircraft.

Donovan’s husband Eric and her son Wade, 11, were among the five people who died in the crash. They accepted an offer from pilot Denny Loree to fly to Saskatchewan in his Piper Arrow to look at some farm equipment Donovan was thinking of buying. They came together with a Lake Buccaneer owned by Joy and Eric Jackson. They were on their way to their fishing camp.

The Transportation Safety Board report said the aircraft crashed at a 90 degree angle to each other and neither pilot apparently saw the other aircraft coming. Investigators also called the crash unsurvivable, noting that the wings of both planes were sheared off in the collision.

McLeod Disqualified In Winning Performance

Pete McLeod settled for fourth in Kuala Lumpur
Pete McLeod settled for fourth in Kuala Lumpur

Canadian Red Bull Air Race pilot Pete McLeod was on track to win his first Red Bull Air Race but it was over literally as it started.

Officials ruled McLeod exceeded the 200-knot speed limit for crossing the start line of the Final Four round at Kuala Lumpur

“I was on the limit but I don’t believe I was over,” an angry McLeod said after the race. “I’m really disappointed.”

He said his onboard recorder pegged his speed at .9 mph under the limit and he was “really focused and it felt good.”

Had the result stood, McLeod would have placed first but was instead listed as “did not finish.” Still, his fourth place finish left him in a tie with race winner Nigel Lamb with 17 points in the overall standing. Hannes Arch is the overall leader with 30 points and he placed second. Matt Hall was third.

McLeod would also have won the previous race in Rovinj, Croatia but was penalized in that race, too, for clipping a pylon.

“I’m satisfied with my performance,” he said. “I’m on track, my flying’s on track. I’m learning a lot but the judging has dictated my last two results and I hope that trend won’t continue.”