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IMP Aerospace & Defence was named Canada’s number one Defence company in 2017, providing in-service support to seven fleets of the Royal Canadian Air Force. It is also one of Canada’s largest maintenance and manufacturing organizations supporting commercial as well as government fixed and rotary aircraft. Headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, IMP Aerospace and Defence employs 2,300 overall across six operating units, offering a diversified line of products and services to both domestic and international customers.
- IMP Aerospace: Located at Halifax International Airport with over 600,000 square feet of hangar, shop and office space, provides full in-service support as well as modification and mission system upgrades to military and commercial aircraft. It is an AS9100/ISO9001 registered organization and Lockheed Martin Authorized P-3 Orion Service Center, an approved Transport Canada Design Approval Organization (DAO), and Canadian DND (Department of National Defence) Accredited Maintenance Organization (AMO).
- IMP Electronic Systems: AS9100/ ISO9001 registered with 45 years of experience in design, manufacture and repair of complex electronic assemblies and wire harnesses for the Canadian DND, U.S. military, and a wide variety of OEMs. Maintains a 43,000 square foot facility located near Halifax including a NASA qualified 2,000 square foot Cleanroom.
- Cascade Aerospace: Operates in an AS9100/ISO9001 registered 230,000 squarefoot hangar at the Abbotsford International Airport in British Columbia, provides integrated engineering, modification, repair and overhaul support programs for government, commercial and OEM customers. Cascade also maintains a satellite operation at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario supporting both the legacy Hercules C-130 and C-130J Super Hercules. Cascade Aerospace was acquired by IMP in 2013.
- IMP Aerostructures: Manufacturer and integrator of structural assemblies and components to such leading aircraft companies as Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Cessna, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Bombardier. Produces a full range of advanced CNC machining, sheet metal forming, composite manufacturing, surface treatment, paint, NDT as well as tool design and fabrication capabilities. Located in Amherst, Nova Scotia.
- IMP Naval & Land Services: Provides engineering, integrated logistics support and coordination for the application of aerospace products and services to the land and sea sectors. An example would be wire harness assemblies built for General Dynamics Land Systems Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) used by the US Army and other international LAV operators. Also, Navy sonar cans processed through IMP Electronics Systems repair and overhaul facilities.
- Canadian SAR Helicopter (CSH): Provides turn-key full In-Service Support operations to Canada’s CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopters. This long-term performance- based contract requires IMP to ensure an availability rate of 99.5 percent for the aircraft fleet at each of the three Operating Bases on a 24/7 basis is achieved.
“The capabilities of our operational units located across Canada allows us to provide a full range of manufacturing and technical services to the Defence sector as well as commercial OEMs,” notes Carl Kumpic’s, vice president of international marketing. Note than Kumpic’s title indicates a direction of IMP Aerospace and Defence beyond Canada’s borders.
Taking Off Internationally
“We’ve growing our international customer base,” Kumpic points out, “offering both maintenance as well as modification services.” Customers include the Royal Norwegian Air Force, Chilean Navy, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, U.S. Forestry Service, U.S Navy, Indonesian Air Force and Egyptian Air Force. IMP Aerospace recently formed a strategic partnership with Taiwan’s Air Asia Company Ltd., to pursue maintenance support services for the P-3 Orion and C-130 Hercules aircraft. It was also recently awarded a multi-year maintenance contract with the Royal Norwegian Air Force for its P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft fleet. Also, Cascade Aerospace was recently awarded a contract to modernize a C-130 Hercules with a digital glass cockpit avionics suite for the Mexican Air Force.
Kumpic notes that the military aircraft experience and vertical integration of IMP Aerospace and Defence as a maintainer and modification operation is attracting international recognition. He adds that while the company has completed contracts with the United States government and civilian agencies, “The challenge for us is that key contracts can specify a preference for U.S.-based contractors. So we’re looking to develop strategic partnerships in the U.S. to address such requirements.”
Another challenge facing IMP Aerospace and Defence is increased competition with OEMs. “In the 1960s and 1970s you’d have a continued refresh of new aircraft off the production line, with progressive upgrades. For OEMs, those production days are gone,” Kumpic points out. “Aircraft used to have an expected service life of 10 to 15 years; today it is 25 to 30 years. To sustain an increased service life, you require more maintenance and modifications. Since OEMs aren’t producing many new military aircraft as they once did, , they see the maintenance and repair aftermarket business as lucrative and a sustainable revenue generator. By limiting access to their intellectual property or technical data, they can confidently monopolize on downstream aftermarket services. ”
Extending Aircraft Life Expectancy
Of course, the other side of the coin is that the need to upgrade rather than replace aircraft creates expanded opportunities for IMP Aerospace and Defence. One example is the anticipated upgrade of the CH-149 Cormorant helicopter fleet that was first put into service in the early 2000s for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. This fleet has accumulated over 82,000 hours in service and is facing numerous obsolescence issues. IMP Aerospace and Defence is working with Leonardo Helicopters, CAE, GE Canada and Rockwell Collins Canada in collaboration to propose upgrades to modernize the fleet and keep it flying to at least 2040. This project is currently in the analysis phase, which is expected to conclude by the end of the year followed by a definition phase to identify the full aircraft system requirements.
The aim of extending the life of any aircraft is to keep it operationally relevant. “While some of this is replacing wear and tear items on the aircraft with new components, another important aspect is installing the latest technologies to ensure effective and continued mission capability”, Kumpic says. “A good example is today’s digital glass cockpit that replaces the legacy unreliable mechanical dials and instruments of the ‘steam gauge’ cockpit.”
Equally important is the power plant. “Fuel efficiency is a major concern for commercial as well as military aircraft. Replacing or upgrading older engines with newer technology is not only a safety objective, but a way to reduce operational expenses through reduced maintenance as well as fuel economy,” Kumpic notes.
“It’s an exciting industry,” Kumpic says. “Commercial and military customers are looking for creative innovations designed to transform legacy platforms into like-new aircraft or missionize commercial platforms for military operations.” As a major player in Canada with a growing global presence, IMP Aerospace and Defence offers the experience and technical capabilities to deliver what is needed to ensure continued fleet effectiveness and availability.