The phrase ‘special relationship’ usually refers to the United States and Great Britain, but this could equally be applied to the partnership between the Boeing Company (Booth 1821 and Outdoor 3013) and Canada, which is fast approaching its centenary.
Boeing itself is celebrating a hundred years of existence on 15 July this year, and is highlighting its 97-year partnership with Canada, which began on 3 March 1919, when William Boeing, in the backseat of his C-700 seaplane piloted by Eddie Hubbard, flew 60 letters from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle. Ten years later, on 29 May 1929, Boeing Aircraft of Canada was incorporated in Vancouver.
Boeing Aircraft of Canada was the foundation of today’s operation, which employs some 2,000 people nationwide, including 1,500 at its facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, opened in 1971. In 2001, Boeing acquired AeroInfo Systems, located at Richmond, which employs 250 people working on maintenance and support software.
At the Sea Island plant, which was located south of Vancouver, Boeing built 382 PBY Catalina maritime patrol aircraft during the Second World War. The plant was also responsible for the mid-section of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, as well as 16 British-designed Blackburn Shark single-engine torpedo bombers, which were bought by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
The RCAF currently flies several Boeing military aircraft , including the CC-177 Globemaster III strategic transport, CH-147F Chinook medium-to-heavy-lift helicopter, and the CF-188 Hornet frontline fighter.
Canada received 138 CF-188s between 1982 and 1988, of which 98 were single-seat CF-188As and 40 two-seater CF-188Bs, then a McDonnell Douglas product until the equally famous Long Beachbased manufacturer was taken over by Boeing in 1997. Eighteen aircraft took part in the Kosovo campaign in 1999, followed by participation in 2001 in Operation Noble Eagle, NORAD’s mission to safeguard North American skies. Seven of Canada’s Hornets formed part of the NATO-led Task Force Libeccio in Libya in 2011, conducting 946 sorties, and dropping 696 bombs of various types to engage military assets threatening the civilian population.
Other notable deployments since have included a mission to Romania and Lithuania in 2014 to patrol NATO airspace due to rising tensions with Russia, and participation with six Hornets in Operation IMPACT, the Canadian Armed Forces contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force combating ISIS.
Boeing received a US$1.15 billion contract from the Canadian government in August 2009 for 15 new CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. Under the contract, Boeing agreed to match Canada’s purchase price by executing contracts and investments of equal value with Canadian industry.
A contract was signed on 2 February 2007 for four Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, designated CC-177 in Canada, to modernise the country’s defence forces airlift fleet. The aircraft were put into service for military and humanitarian missions, including delivery of emergency relief supplies to the people of Jamaica in the wake of Hurricane Dean just 12 days after delivery; transporting humanitarian aid, vehicles and medical patients following the Haiti earthquake in 2010; and evacuation flights in Libya in 2011.
Canada’s CC-177s also have supported Operation Athena in Afghanistan and in the Philippines with the recent typhoons. A fifth aircraft was delivered in March 2015.