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By James Careless
What Canadian connection do the following three aircraft have in common?
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the world’s most advanced jet airliner, offering 20 per cent better fuel performance due to its lightweight composite materials.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 jet is the most advanced fighter aircraft, and the choice of NATO allies.
Finally, the Bombardier C-Series is this manufacturer’s next generation of fuel-efficient narrow-body passenger jets.
Advanced Integration Technology Canada (AIT Canada); a BC-based creator of turnkey aircraft manufacturing assemblies and tooling. AIT Canada’s technicians make the highly precise, accurate, assembly equipment that allows firms like Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Lockheed Martin and second-tier aerospace companies like Vought, Global Aeronautica, Spirit AeroSystems, and others, to build aircraft within the most demanding tolerances.
Founded in 2004, AIT Canada employs 93 people in its combined 112,000-square-foot manufacturing space (two facilities) in Langley, BC. Its parent company, AIT, was established in 1992 by current President Ed Chalupa, and is headquartered in Plano, Texas.
AIT aerospace credits — to which AIT Canada is an ongoing and vital contributor — are nothing less than stellar. For instance, AIT is the prime contractor/integrator for the final assembly of the 787 Dreamliner, and the company was in a unique position as Boeing’s only supplier to manage the integration of all 787 Dreamliner sub-assemblies.
“When one is flying in an Airbus, Boeing or Bombardier aircraft, chances are it was built using rigs and tooling made by AIT in Canada,” says Lazo Turanjanin, AIT Canada’s sales manager.
In recognition of its quality, AIT has won business awards such as the Boeing Gold Award 2010 and 2011, and the Lockheed Martin 100 per cent Quality and Delivery Performance in 2011. The company has been selected as one of BC’s Top 25 Exporters by the 2012 BC Export Awards.
“We are extremely proud of our accomplishments, which have been made possible by the quality and dedication of our people both in Canada and the United States,” says Steven Taylor-Lewis, AIT’s general manager.
As a CME member, AIT Canada takes part in many CME initiatives, including Innovation Insights events. On September 13, 2012, AIT Canada hosted 18 SMEs for an Innovation Insights event at its Aldergrove facility. The delegates got to see AIT Canada’s 21st century engineering and manufacturing processes, which meet AS9100C aerospace standards. While there, they were invited to join in developing a regional automation and technology integration hub; expanding AIT’s tooling base to meet the needs of many local industries beyond aerospace.
“The aerospace manufacturing industry is cyclical,” Turanjanin explains. “But the knowledge and facilities we have at AIT Canada are not. We have access to a wealth of expertise and equipment that can aid regional manufacturers and exporters on a continuing basis, both when times are slow for us, and when they are busy, like now.”
Turanjanin notes most of its work is for the aerospace industry outside BC, but it also services the local industry and looks to other markets. Innovation Insights was, therefore, a chance to introduce the company to its CME neighbours and start dialogues.
“We have already met with one regional CEO as a result of the tour,” says Turanjanin. “There is clearly an interest in forming local partnerships to help all of us improve our manufacturing and export activities.”
The Innovation Insights events are just one way CME fosters the success and growth of its members coast-to-coast.
“We are so happy to be working together, and to be attracting more CME members to our regional hub initiative for automation and technology integration,” Taylor-Lewis concludes.