Could be several years before agreement bears fruit
SUMMERSIDE – Vector Aerospace Engine Services – Atlantic, based in Slemon Park, has scored a potentially lucrative contract with a European company.
Spain-based Airbus Military announced Friday that if it is successful in its bid to replace Canada’s ageing fixed wing search and rescue aircraft – primarily the Hercules fleet – engine maintenance for the new planes will be done by Vector in Summerside.
It’s a 20-year agreement and is touted to be worth $125 million over the period of the contract.
The Department of National Defence is expected to tender a replacement order for the Hercules in the spring of 2014 and could potentially make a decision on which aircraft it will chose sometime in 2015.
Jeff Poirier, president of the local branch of Vector, said his company is more than read to take on this challenge and that this deal will be a great benefit to the Island.
“This deal will mean more long-term aerospace dollars for P.E.I., which helps secure good-paying high-technology jobs on the Island in the long-term,” said Poirier.
“It’s also a reminder of the great things that we’re doing. That we have the capability, the facilities and the know-how to work with the largest aerospace companies in the world. That’s an important success story,” he said.
Innovation Minister Allen Roach added that the deal is a validation of the importance of the aerospace industry on the Island.
“It’s just amazing news for this province and this city. It is proof, no question about it, that aerospace works on Prince Edward Island,” said Roach.
“Today, aerospace is a virtual part of the Island economy – it’s been here a long time and It’s here to stay,” he added.
Antonio Barberán, senior vice president of Airbus Military, said this is the first time his company and Vector have worked together, but that he believes they will be a good fit.
“We’re talking about growth – growth for us – growth for Vector Aerospace, growth for our colleagues and growth for the province. In this world, it’s very important,” he said.
He also talked a bit about the Airbus Military C295, which is the plane they hope will replace the Hercules.
“I want you to get used to this plane,” he said.
“This is the plane that we hope will be very soon in the skies all over Canada. It’s a plane that is a world leader… it has more than 60 per cent of the world market, it’s a proven plane and reliable,” he added.
When asked what he put his company’s chances at in terms of being awarded the contract, Barberán said he’d estimate a more than 50 per cent chance the C295 will be replacing the Hercules.
He was also asked if Airbus Military had any concerns regarding the federal government’s bungling of several major military procurement contracts over the past several years, including reports of overspending on ship procurement, ballooning fighter jet costs, and 20 years worth of delays in replacing search and rescue helicopters.
Barberán was diplomatic in his response, saying that as an outsider to Canada it would not be appropriate for him to comment on an internal Canadian matter.
However, he did say the relationship between the Canadian government and companies like his has improved over the last couple of years.
“Especially in the last couple of years we’ve been extremely pleased with the dialogue that has been established with the program office. They are listening to us, they are listening to our competitors too – but I think this program is sound and is established on a very strong foundation,” he said.
Vector Aerospace in Summerside employs nearly 1,000 people.
Anyone who would like to know more about the C295 can check out Airbus Military’s webpage www.airbusmilitary.com.