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Obst elected to AIAC board; industry faces innovation challenge

Johnathon “Lee” Obst, the managing director of Rockwell Collins Canada, has been elected to the board of directors of the Aerospace Industries Association Canada.

“I’m proud to represent Rockwell Collins on the board and look forward to working with members who are committed to creating jobs and technologies in Canada for the aerospace industry both domestically and worldwide,” Obst said in a statement. The former Canadian Forces fighter and experimental test pilot oversees the operations and production facilities of Rockwell Collins in Ottawa and Montreal.

During AIAC’s Aerospace Summitt in Ottawa last week, Obst and other delegates were reminded of the challenges Canadian industry faces to better integrate into what is now a truly global supply chain. Jim Quick, the association’s president and CEO, cautioned that despite the industry’s success in the past year – he laid out six reasons for that success, including AIAC policy solutions that fit within the government’s fiscal framework – it will not be enough if the sector does not have a plan to grow small aerospace businesses. “Our success is tied to their success,” he said.

Murdo Morrison, the editor of U.K.-based Flight Global magazine, noted that although Canada’s industry has deep roots, its ongoing success “is not a foregone conclusion…you need to play to your strengths.” In particular, that means investing more in innovation and ensuring the industry is attractive to the world’s best engineers. Many new competitors such as Mexico are not building on low-paid, low skilled workforces, he added, they are pursuing highly skilled and highly educated people.

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