By the Numbers: R&D in Canada's aerospace industry

Mark Lowey
September 15, 2021

See Research Money's recent feature story on the future of the aerospace industry in Canada here

If Canada is to remain a global aerospace champion, we need a bold new vision for industry – fully aware of the new realities and building on our strengths to keep us at the forefront of discovery and innovation.”

—Jean Charest, Charting a New Course: Canada as a Global Aerospace Champion 

If the aerospace industry cannot survive in this country without Canadian taxpayers propping it up forever in countless ways, it’s time to let it go.” 

Aaron Wudrick, lawyer and, at the time, federal director of the

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Contribution to Canada’s Economy

$31 billion – revenues in aerospace industry

Nearly $28 billion – aerospace industry’s total contribution to Canada’s GDP

235,000 – number of direct, indirect and induced jobs in Canada supported by aerospace industry

51 percent and 30 percent – Quebec’s and Ontario’s share of employment, respectively, in aerospace manufacturing in Canada

41 percent – Western Canada’s share of employment (the lion’s share nationally) in aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul

93 percent – percentage of aerospace manufacturing firms that were exporters (44 percent higher than the manufacturing average) to more than 190 countries

5th – ranking globally of the size of Canada’s aerospace industry

Top 3 – Canadian aerospace industry’s ranking globally in the production of civil flight simulators, turboprop and helicopter engines, business jets, and regional aircraft

Nearly 70 percent – percentage of Canada’s space revenues generated by Ontario’s space sector

60 percent – percentage of employment in Canada’s space industry contributed by Ontario’s space sector

Impact on Research and Innovation

$1.4 billion – investment in R&D by aerospace industry (close to 25 percent of total manufacturing R&D in Canada)

No. 1 – ranking of aerospace industry in R&D among Canadian manufacturing industries

Six times higher – amount of R&D intensity in the aerospace industry, compared with the manufacturing average

Two times higher – amount of STEM employment in aerospace manufacturing, compared with the manufacturing average

Over 70 percent – percentage of aerospace manufacturing firms that cooperated on innovation activities with academic partners

22 – number of colleges and universities in Ontario that offer more than 40 degrees and diploma programs in engineering, aviation and space education that produce nearly 40,000 graduates per year

Sources: State of Canada’s Aerospace Report: 2019 by Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, Government of Canada, Perspective magazine.

Trends and Targets

5 percent – percentage of decrease in employment in Canada’s aerospace manufacturing industry since 2012

50,000 – Number of new workers required to replace those leaving the industry

4 percent – percentage of decrease in Canada’s aerospace industry’s contribution to GDP since 2012

4.7 percent – rate of growth in the global aerospace market forecast for the next 20 years

25 percent – rate of growth in commercial aircraft production globally expected in the next 10 years

40,000 – forecast for the number of new aircraft, valued at US$5.9 trillion, required globally over the next 20 years

$37 billion – Canadian aerospace industry’s 2025 target for national GDP contribution

Source: Charting a New Course: Canada as a Global Aerospace Champion by Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (produced from Vision 2025 consultation led by Jean Charest, partner at McCarthy Tétrault and former premier of Quebec and deputy prime minister of Canada).

Kyria Sztainbok contributed research to this report.


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