2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit
It’s blue skies ahead for Centennial, this as aerospace is going green. The College is planning to work on energy efficient next generation landing gear technology. And that’s the trend in aerospace, as fuel efficiency and environmentally friendly flying solutions are at the forefront.
The 2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit, took place in November 15-16 in Ottawa and Centennial, of course, was on hand. At the Summit, Denis Faubert, president and CEO of the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada, a major funding arm for aerospace research, emphasized that of all their funded projects, about 75% are environmentally-friendly innovations. Centennial’s landing gear project, “has a strong green component,” according to Eric Blaise, the College’s Aerospace Innovation Program Manager, whose background is in aerospace R&D, designing and certifying turbines for business jets.
Moving away from hydraulic actuation, to electrical, Blaise says, is beneficial because it reduces weight, and thereby enhances fuel efficiency. Aerospace innovators like the team at Centennial College, are hoping to reduce the mass of the landing gear actuation system, as well as optimize their design.
Blaise says innovation can come from additive manufacturing, and optimizing “design shapes that are more organic.” He says some of these shapes are counterintuitive, “like stuff you see in nature,” often overlooked, as designers are often taught to “build things that can only be manufactured in a traditional way.”
It’s these kinds of developments that’ll be looked at over the course of the next five years as the College gears up to move into its new Downsview aerospace research facility, slated to open in January 2019, “hallowed ground” as President Ann Buller recently referred to it, the site where de Havilland once built WWII Mosquito bombers. The space will triple the current capacity of the College’s aviation and aerospace training programs.
In the new Downsview Centre, Blaise envisions an innovation facility with landing gear at its core, along with material testing, prototyping, validating, and possibly additive manufacturing.
“In the GTA, we have a huge strength in landing gear and we have great expertise in robotics and hydraulics at Centennial,” notes Blaise. Different academic institutions and industries working together is how you innovate, he says. “Interacting with people of different backgrounds and expertise, sometimes even over coffee, is where innovation happens…you often don’t get those ‘wow’ moments at a desk.”
The Aerospace Centre will provide more than its fair share of wow moments, as not only will it contribute to an already robust local aerospace sector, it may lead to the development of a hub or research centre of excellence, generating high-level jobs in a knowledge economy.
Worldwide, 40% of all commercial airliners deploy landing gears are already made in Ontario, and the domestic Canadian aerospace manufacturing sector is over 5X as R&D-intensive as the manufacturing sector average.