A rendition of the completed DAIR facilities at night

Innovations set to advance Ontario and Canada’s global leadership in aerospace

The Downsview Aerospace Innovation & Research (DAIR) hub brings together academics, companies, research organizations and government stakeholders around a shared goal—to advance Ontario and Canada’s global aerospace industry leadership.

Named Executive Director of DAIR in 2021, Maryse Harvey works at the storied site of Toronto’s Downsview Park, originally home to De Havilland Aircraft, the developer and manufacturer of innovative planes like the Moth and the Mosquito.

A celebrated history of aviation innovation

“We’re mindful that we’re building on a century of world-class aerospace and aviation excellence,” says Harvey, herself a veteran of Canada’s aerospace industry. “Our goal with DAIR is to create the achievements that will fill the history books of tomorrow.”

DAIR aims to keep Ontario at the forefront of aerospace innovation by fostering collaboration among researchers and corporations. The original consortium partners are a who’s who of Canadian aerospace. On the academic side, there’s the University of Toronto, McMaster University, Queen’s University, York University, Toronto Metropolitan University and Centennial College. On the corporate side, there’s De Havilland, Bombardier, Safran, MHI Canada Aerospace, Burloak Technologies, Fibos and OVA. And, more members are coming on board, drawn by DAIR’s vision.

Students working at DAIR's state-of-the-art labs working on equipment.
For companies looking to create the aerospace products and services of the future, DAIR offers access to some of the world’s finest R&D talent, state-of-the-art labs and equipment—and the next generation of aerospace workers.

“We believe that there’s no limit to what we can achieve by working together and daring to be ambitious,” Harvey says, pointing out that while Ontario is an established world leader in key market segments and currently spends over $500 million a year on R&D, there’s no room for complacency. “The aerospace industry is highly competitive and dynamic. The landscape is accelerating, and we need to accelerate along with it.”

Students working on aerospace equipment at Centennial College.
Centennial College has been offering aviation education and training since 1967. Its programs, which benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, are so well-regarded worldwide that some 40% of students come from abroad.

At present, the nine-acre DAIR site is home to three facilities. There’s the Toronto Metropolitan University Aerospace Engineering Centre, where faculty, graduate students and industry partners work on revolutionary R&D. The Landing Gear Innovation Lab, where next-generation landing gear technologies are tested. And the Bombardier Centre for Aerospace and Aviation, home to Centennial College’s aerospace program. The $72 million, 130,000 square foot facility houses two aircraft hangars—one large enough to accommodate today’s commercial jets—and a variety of aircraft and rotorcraft, as well as labs for electrical, avionics, structural, robotics, CNC programming, engines and composites. At full capacity, the college will train one thousand students in next-generation aviation maintenance engineering, engineering technology and airframe assembly.

There are facilities still to come: the Moth Building, which will serve as DAIR’s headquarters, and the Innovation Centre. Featuring an “open door” policy designed to encourage collaboration, the Innovation Centre will offer hotelling and permanent office space, event venues, classrooms, shared boardrooms and flexible workspaces, and labs and testing facilities for joint or single occupation.

“The idea is to accelerate advancement and uptake of technologies by connecting industry with our formidable R&D talent and ensuring they’re equipped with the latest in technology.”

A rendition of DAIR's completed facilities.
It’s no secret that innovation thrives when academic researchers and industry players collaborate. DAIR is creating the conditions for unprecedented university-industry R&D collaboration.

Diversity of talent and a history of collaboration fuel Ontario’s aerospace industry

Harvey is an unabashed booster of Ontario’s aerospace industry. As a former advisor to the Canadian Minister of Industry and senior vice-president of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, she knows what she’s talking about.

“With over 200 firms in Ontario that include global giants and home-grown SMEs, we have all the components here—a long history of aerospace achievement, a talented and diverse workforce, access to venture capital, a stable economy and a tradition of collaboration. DAIR is building on all of that.”

She adds, “If you’re in the aviation, aerospace or space business, come and see what’s going on here. It’s exciting, and we’re hoping you’ll want to become part of it.”

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