Canada - Commercial Guide
Aerospace and Defense

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-08-03

Overview

Canada is the world’s fifth largest aerospace market with $24 billion in revenues in 2019 supporting approximately 213,000 jobs. Canada ranks first worldwide for civil flight simulator production, third in civil engine production and fourth in civil aircraft production.  Approximately 80% of Canada’s aerospace sector is civil oriented, and 20% is military oriented.  Montréal is the world’s third largest aerospace hub after Seattle, Washington and Toulouse, France.   

Canada’s aerospace sector activities are divided into two main subsectors:  

  1. Aircraft manufacturing (civil, defense and space) (69%) 
  2. Aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) (31%) 

The U.S. aerospace supply chains are highly integrated with those of Canada. Over the years, Canada consistently ranks in the top five export markets for U.S. aerospace goods. In 2018, Canada was the United States’ fourth largest aerospace export market, accounting for nearly US$10 billion in U.S. exports.  U.S. companies play a dominant role in the Canadian aerospace sector; close to 60% of all of Canada’s aerospace imports are from the United States.  The U.S.-Canada aerospace supply chains are highly integrated.  Over 60% of all Canadian exports are supply chain driven; more than half of all Canadian aerospace exports are to the United States.   

Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, production in the Canadian civil aerospace market was forecast to outpace the global market for the 2014-2021 period. This was due to the rise in the need for civil aircraft, particularly the single-aisle, short- to mid-range categories, all markets that Canada dominates in.  Due to the covid-19 pandemic, however, the aerospace sector has been greatly impacted as airlines have had to cancel or delay their orders and delay delivery of new aircraft.  While it is difficult to ascertain the full impact of covid-19 on the aviation sector, experts say that pre-covid, 2019 production rates will only return in two-three years at best.  The numbers below are best estimates.   

It is noteworthy that the MRO subsector has grown by 26% over the last decade, and over 25% of Canada’s MRO activities are in the defense sector.  In terms of geography, over 50% of Canada’s aircraft manufacturing occurs in Québec and 30% in Ontario; 41% of all MRO occurs in Western Canada. In 2018, the sector spent $1.08 billion in R&D; the aerospace sector is five times more R&D intensive than the average for Canadian manufacturing industries. 

Several U.S.-Canada agreements make it easier for U.S. aerospace companies to do business in Canada than in any other foreign market:  the U.S.-Canada Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) facilitates airworthiness approval by Transport Canada of FAA-approved aerospace products; the Defense Production Sharing Agreement allows U.S. and Canadian companies to work together on the research and production of defense aircraft; this agreement also allows U.S. companies to bid on Canadian government procurement programs;  and lastly, U.S. companies can export International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) items to Canada more easily due to Canada’s ITAR Exemption.  Multilaterally, Canada is a signatory to the WTO’s Trade in Civil Aircraft Agreement, thereby ensuring a same level playing field between U.S. and Canadian aerospace companies. 

Table: Canada Aerospace Production Data (US$ Millions) 

  

2017  

2018  

2019 (Estimated) 

2020 (Estimated)  

Total Local Production  

22, 368 

23, 900 

24, 081 

22, 000 

Total Exports  

12, 242 

12, 700 

13, 150 

12, 400 

Total Imports  

11, 331 

11, 746 

12, 200 

11, 500 

Imports from the US  

9, 248 

9, 955 

10, 539 

9, 942 

Total Market Size  

21, 457 

22, 255 

23, 131 

21, 100 

Exchange Rates 

N/A 

N/A 

1.2957  

1.327 

(total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)  

Units: $ millions / Exchange Rate: US$1 = C$1.327 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada 

Leading Sub-Sectors

· Aircraft Parts, Systems and Sub-Systems

· Aircraft Engine Parts and Components 

· Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Parts, Components and Services

  • Space Commerce

Opportunities

There are many opportunities for U.S. exporters in Canada’s aerospace market.  The Canadian aviation sector is vibrant and highly integrated with that of the United States and Europe.  Some of the largest aerospace players in Canada include Bombardier, Bell Textron, Pratt & Whitney Canada, L-3 Harris, Safran, Goodrich, Boeing, GE, Rolls Royce and Lockheed Martin, to name a few.  In addition to household names such as Bombardier, in the last year, the Canadian aerospace industry has seen the arrival of new significant players such as Airbus and Mitsubishi.  Thus U.S. companies selling to these larger players outside Canada should explore opportunities with their Canadian-based subsidiaries. 

Canada’s most significant aircraft manufacturing platforms include: Airbus A220 (former Bombardier CSeries), Mitsubishi CRJ (legacy Bombardier program), Bombardier Global Express and Challenger Business Jets, and Bell Textron’s 407, 412, 429, 555 rotorcraft.  Significant engine manufacturing is done by Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC); all UTC engines with less than 11,000 pounds of thrust are made in Canada.  It is noteworthy to mention that in the last 18 months Bombardier has divested itself of all of its commercial aircraft manufacturing; it is now solely a business jet manufacturing company. 

In addition, Canada’s space market is also growing.  In 2019, Canada announced its participation in NASA’s Lunar Gateway program by pledging $1.5 billion over 24 years to build and operate a space robotic arm. Canada is developing advanced space robots with artificial intelligence, making forays in space medicine, and is designing a new generation of satellites and constellations capable of delivering earth observation, space-based telecommunications and broadband service, and space situational awareness services. 

U.S. companies can best capture business opportunities in Canada by participating in local trade shows and industry events.  Canadian representatives prefer to do business with companies they can build a long-term relationship with.  In addition to selling directly to clients, U.S. companies should consider establishing distributorships or hiring local sales representatives as Canada has a large landmass and having local representation will facilitate greater access.  

As mentioned above, U.S. companies are eligible to bid on Canadian federal government tenders for both commercial and military aviation. 

For more information on these opportunities, visit Canada’s Public Works and Government Services Canada website

Resources

Major Events and Trade Shows in Canada

Industry Associations  

Canadian Government  

Commercial Service Contacts 

  • For additional information on civil/dual-use aerospace, please contact Commercial Specialist Gina Bento at Gina.Bento@trade.gov or by phone at (514) 908-3660. 
  • For additional information on military aerospace, please contact Commercial Specialist Luz Betancur at Luz.Betancur@trade.gov or by phone at (613) 688-5411.