- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Nov 1948, p. 81-93
- Deisher, Walter N., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The development and future of Canada's growing aircraft industry. Achievements of the Canadian aviation industry between 1939 and 1945. Canadian aeronautical pioneers. A brief history of Canadian aviation. The industry as it stands today. Activities of the DeHavilland Aircraft Company of Canada Limited. Production by Canadair in Montreal. Development project details at Avro Canada at Malton. The future of the aircraft industry in Canada. A market for the personal plane, i.e. one, two and four-seater types. In terms of the larger civil aircraft and in the military field, we are approaching the jet age when practically all aircraft in the high-power, high-duty class will be jet powered. Development of the jet engine at Avro. The size of Canada's industry, and its importance. The fact that our northern frontiers are exposed, and what that means for defence. Ensuring that the industry is maintained and kept in a state of readiness. Funding. The need for government assistance to carry out a development programme. Facts about the jet engine. The unique nature of the aircraft engine industry. Reasons for the need for national support on engine development. Taking steps to make the Canadian aircraft industry more independent; offering to Canadian engineers, for the first time, a full scope in the aircraft engine field hitherto available only in other countries. The jet engine still in its infancy. Some conservative estimates for its future. Bringing about a product capable of boosting Canada's national pride.
- Date of Original
- 18 Nov 1948
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- THE AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY IN CANADA AND THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF JET ENGINES
AN ADDRESS BY WALTER N. DEISHER
Chairman: The President, Mr. Thos. H. Howse.
Thursday, November 18th, 1948
HONOURED GUESTS AND GENTLEMEN
While nobody in his right mind would ever suggest that war was a good thing, nevertheless, under the stimulus of war some astounding progress has been made in the realm of science. For example, the combined efforts of many great scientists has finally cracked the atom, the peacetime potentialities of which are simply fantastic.
At the outbreak of the first World War the airoplane was a very flimsy affair. Much progress was made during the war but after peace came the tempo of developments in aeronautics became very slow until another war threatened and finally materialized 21 years later. Since then the progress in aviation has been simply astounding.
Today our guest speaker Mr. Walter N. Deisher, Vice-President and General Manager of A. V. Roe Co. who has been associated with the aircraft industry for over 39 years is going to tell us some of the developments we may anticipate in the aircraft industry in the not too distant future, but you can rest assured he will not divulge any official secrets.
Mr. Deisher is the proud possessor of a full-fledged pilot's license which he secured as far back as 1912, signed by Orville Wright.
He purchased his first aeroplane in 1919 and leased a section of land outside Ottawa which was cleared for a landing field and has since became Ottawa's official airport where thousands of pilots were trained during the last war.
During the past year Mr. Deisher was interested in a Company at Fort Erie, Ontario, where over three thousand trainer aircraft were produced.
In 1945 he accepted the heavy burden of responsibility of ushering in a great new programme for the A. V. Roe Co., which is gradually unfolding at Malton. It includes a jet engine, a jet fighter and a jet-powered transport.
I now have very much pleasure in introducing Mr. Walter N. Deisher, whose subject will be "The Aircraft Industry in Canada and the Future Development of Jet Engines."
It has been my privilege to have been connected with the Canadian aircraft industry for more years than I care to count, and as a member of this group I consider it an honour to have the opportunity of speaking to you on the development and future of Canada's growing aircraft industry.
Most of us still remember the great achievement of the Canadian aviation industry between 1939 and 1945, during which time Canada--a nation with a land area of approximately three and one half million miles and a population of twelve million people--produced more aircraft per capita than any of our allied nations. I quote this statement from a recent issue of a leading American magazine. We are apt to forget, however, our own Canadian aeronautical pioneers, both civil and military, who quietly and methodically carried the burden of the industry through the formative years. To those who were outside the field of Canadian aviation prior to 1939 this remarkable growth may have appeared to develop overnight, but this was not so; commercial, civil and military aviation had been preparing itself for this tremendous effort.
As a prelude to later remarks in this address, I will deal briefly with the history, of Canadian aviation. During the past three years a great deal of material has appeared in the papers about jet planes and jet engines. Nevertheless, to properly appreciate the present position of the Canadian aircraft industry, I would like to trace for you some of the highlights of the early years before telling you about the planes and engines of tomorrow.
Many of you may not realize that the first heavier-than-air flight in the British Empire was made in Canada. This flight was carried out in 1909 by J. A. D. McCurdy in his "Silver Dart" at Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
Aviation was given a great impetus through World War I, but these aircraft were not particularly reliable, and after the war commercial operation was restricted to a handful of enthusiasts who were interested in flying for flying's sake.
It was not until the late 'twenties that the country began awakening to the commercial possibilities in aviation. Several aviation companies were formed, the Government began carrying mail on an experimental basis, and the organization of flying clubs commenced. The exploits of individuals, such as the flight of Kingsford Smith and his associates from California to Australia, and the flight to Paris by Lindbergh in 1927, stirred the imagination of the public, and occupied much space in our newspapers.
These exciting flights were considered foolhardy, however, by the public, who little realized that in a short twenty years many of them would be taking the same flights themselves, and considering them quite commonplace.
In the early 'thirties the Canadian Government decided to release funds to assist civil aviation, and the carrying of airmail was turned over to commercial companies. In addition, a number of smaller companies entered the field. Competition became very keen, in fact too keen, and when the cold breath of the depression hit, very few were able to show a profit. The more enterprising ones turned to bush flying, that is the carrying of men and materials into the North Country where land transportation was difficult and slow. For several years commercial flying was largely confined to the bush, a phase of operation in which Canada led the world.
The Government, meanwhile, had recognized the need of setting up air bases from coast to coast, and was busy during the 'thirties building a series of suitable airports from British Columbia to the Maritimes. Canada was indeed becoming air-minded, and in 1936 civil aviation was divorced from military aviation, and placed under the Department of Transport.
With the completion of the first phase of construction of the transcontinental bases, the stage was set, and the next year in 1937, Trans-Canada Airlines was formed. By the end of the year this young airline had a fleet of five aircraft, each carrying ten passengers. The history of this government-owned company has been one of steady expansion, and we are indeed proud to say that its standard of service ranks high among the airlines of the world. A number of other airlines, chief of which is Canadian Pacific Airlines, have also grown up with T.C.A. While a number of smaller companies were engaged in the manufacture of aircraft during the 'thirties, production orders were never large, but most of the companies were able to maintain their small staffs.
Following the outbreak of war in 1939, the Department of Munitions and Supply was formed, and the Canadian aircraft industry commenced its phenomenal growth.
At the peak of production in 1944 there were over 120,000 persons employed in the production of aircraft and associated equipment, and by the time activities ceased, Canada had built more than 16,000 aircraft, and had overhauled and repaired approximately 6,000 more.
When the war ended the inevitable happened, and the manufacture of aircraft dropped to a very low figure, but the stimulus given to it during the war years was not entirely lost.
Let us examine the industry as it stands today.
One of the oldest firms in Canada is The DeHavilland Aircraft Company of Canada Limited, just north of Toronto at Downsview. This plant, since the war, has designed and built two entirely new types of aircraft; the first, a two-seater, all-metal trainer called the "Chipmunk". This trainer has already been selected for use in the Royal Air Force and it is anticipated that foreign countries will be ordering them. The second aircraft, the "Beaver", is also of Canadian design and has been built primarily for bush flying operations, and the forestry services have already ordered a quantity of them. The "Beaver" is a five passenger, single engined monoplane with a very satisfactory performance. The company is also assembling British built "Vampire" jet fighters for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Canadair in Montreal is producing the well-known "North Star" airliner, a number of which are already in use by T.C.A. on trans-ocean and domestic routes. They have recently received an order for an additional quantity of these aircraft from British Overseas Airways Corporation, and anticipate orders from foreign countries. This particular aircraft is the basic Douglas DC-4 and DC-6 with the design modified by the Canadian company to take Rolls-Royce Merlin power plants. A number of other refinements have also been added. Canadair is also de-signing a freighter version of this machine, which would prove to be an extremely useful aircraft.
The third of the three large aircraft plants in Canada is our own company, Avro Canada at Malton.
Primarily because we are doing a considerable amount of new development work, work which has never before been carried on in Canada, I should like to give you a fairly complete picture of this work. Some of the projects are of a secret nature, however, and detailed information on these cannot be revealed at this time.
Our first project is the design and development of a high performance, long range, jet powered fighter. Performance and information on this aircraft is, of course, secret but we anticipate that it will embody design features making it equal in performance to any aircraft of its type in the world. It is the first front-line fighter aircraft which has been designed by Canadians.
Our second project is the design and development of a commercial type jet powered airliner. The original plans for this airliner were laid down in 1946, at a time when other companies showed little enthusiasm for the jet transport, and argued that due to the high fuel consumption the pure jet transport would not be an economical proposition. In fact there was also a certain amount of skepticism that Canada, who had never produced a Canadian designed transport, could produce such an advanced and completely new type of aeroplane. Despite this criticism we decided to continue with the design and manufacture of our transport. The opinion that the jet-powered airliner would be uneconomical continued until as recently as six to eight months ago. But it is significant to note that most of the companies, who were loudly proclaiming the disadvantages of such an aircraft have now turned through 180 degrees and reversed their policy completely. They are now convinced that the pure jet transport can not only be favourably compared with the latest conventional reciprocating and propjet types, but actually make them look almost obsolete. Several of them have quietly begun the design of jet-powered transports of their own.
Let me tell you a little more about this aircraft. It has been designed basically as a short to medium range transport for Canadian domestic routes, a fact which should make it adaptable to most domestic routes throughout the world.
For optimum conditions, we have designed the cabin to carry from 36 to 40 passengers, together with a crew of three--the captain, first officer, and stewardess. The fuselage is fully air-conditioned for maximum comfort, and is pressurized so that when you are travelling at 30,000 ft., the equivalent pressure in the cabin is only 4,000 ft. altitude. You must appreciate that for greatest economy the jet-powered aircraft must fly at high altitudes, and by maintaining almost sea level conditions in the cabin we can climb or descend from altitude at a comparatively rapid rate, an important consideration on short ranges. From a safety point of view there will be complete duplication of all essential services throughout the aircraft.
The aircraft will contain a number of other features such as, integral fuel tanks; that is, the outer wing portion between the spars will act as the fuel tanks; electro-thermal leading edge de-icing by means of electrical heaters embedded in rubber; and flush radio antennae to reduce drag.
The aircraft will be powered with four turbojet RollsRoyce Derwent engines. We have selected the Derwent engine as it represents the most reliable jet engine being manufactured today with a higher number of flying hours than any other jet engine. Since there are no propellers, the aircraft sits fairly low on the ground, and maintenance is a much easier proposition. In fact, with our design of engine nacelles we anticipate being able to change a complete engine in approximately a half an hour.
We are presently carrying out a considerable number of tests on structure to insure that all design figures are checked, and I think I can predict, with fair confidence, that in the Avro Jet Airliner Canada has designed an aircraft capable of meeting world wide competition.
When it is your turn to experience your first flight in our jet airliner, and that day is approaching swiftly, I would like you to remember what I am about to say on its flight characteristics, relating to passenger comfort. It will be so quiet in the pressurized and air-conditioned cabin that you will be able to converse in whispers; you will be pleasantly surprised at the lack of vibration; and it will feel like sifting through space. You will experience a new sense of comfort, safety and relaxation in air travel, and I would like to further prophesy that you'll probably turn to your fellow passenger and, "Why hasn't this been available before?"
In addition to the comfort afforded by vibrationless flight, it will also have a beneficial effect on the maintenance and life of the aircraft. The airframe will last very much longer and the increased life and safety eventually reduce the cost of air travel, providing, of course, other costs remain constant.
Designed as it is for high altitude travel you will be flying above the bad weather most of the time.
The first of our jet airliners will be flying sometime early next year. That does not mean that it will be ready for public flight. We shall have to carry out many months of test flights, under all types of conditions, to insure that all the "bugs" are out of it. By 1951, however, these airliners should be on some of the Canadian routes, and your future flights to Montreal will be a comfortable one hour's trip.
Several people have asked me whether jet engines use more fuel than conventional piston engines. The answer is yes . . . under certain conditions, and those conditions are low attitudes and low speeds. As the speed and altitude of an aircraft increases, the efficiency of the piston engine drops rapidly, but with a jet engine the power of the engine simply increases the faster the airplane flies, and its fuel consumption improves. Because of turbine blade cooling and a number of other technological advances the fuel consumption of the jet already approximates that of the reciprocating engine under some comparable conditions, and in its own high-altitude, high-speed sphere is surprisingly less.
In view of these factors, which are becoming more evident today, I feel that the decision which we made several years ago to proceed with the jet transport was not an unwise one.
The third major project which we have under development at Malton is our jet engine, but before dealing with the jet engine I would like to complete the aircraft picture.
What about the future of the aircraft industry in Canada?
There will undoubtedly be a market, though a small one, for the personal plane, that is the one, two and four seater types. The manufacture of these types will not, however, be carried on in any quantity in this country for some years, at least not until all-weather flying aids for light planes have been introduced, and are in common use, and not until a network of suitable airfield facilities at the smaller towns have been built up. There is a steady growth in the number of light planes in use in this country, but the majority of these are of American manufacture. Later, I believe, we shall see these aircraft built in Canada, but probably of American design.
In the larger type civil aircraft and in the military field, I can safely say that we are approaching the jet age when practically all aircraft in the high-power, high-duty class will be jet powered. The inherent simplicity of the jet with its freedom from vibration, absence of propellers, and reduction in the number of instruments in the cockpit all lead to an aeroplane simpler to operate and simpler to maintain.
We at Avro Canada are fully aware of the part the jet will play in the future of air travel, and a design and development organization is being built up with the engineering knowledge of the world famous Hawker Siddeley Group at our command, which should keep our country right up in front with the rest of the aviation world.
While the industry as a whole is small, its size belies its importance. The aeroplane has made Canada a much smaller country, and has opened up the North to a great extent, and will continue to do so to an ever increasing degree. Not only has it proven itself useful in times of emergency, such as during the floods this spring in British Columbia when all rail traffic was cut off, but its worth in national defence is becoming more and more apparent every day.
Our northern frontiers are exposed, we might as well face that fact, and we as a nation are large enough that we must build up an air force capable of defending it. I do not think that I need emphasize this preparedness theme, but the aircraft industry is tied up intimately with our national defence plans. We must insure that the industry is maintained and kept in a state of readiness.
No large aircraft plant can carry out a development programme without some form of government assistance. The development of a new aircraft may run anywhere from five to ten million dollars. The U.S. industry, and the United States government has recognized this, and the larger companies are now being assisted by means of army, airforce, or navy contracts, and I believe the Canadian government will insure the same policies are carried out in this country.
And now I should like to devote the balance of this talk to tell you something of the jet engine.
The aircraft engine industry is unique as an industry because it flourishes mainly as a result of national support. This differs from nationalization and should not be confused with it.
The main reason why national support is necessary for the existence of a healthy industry is a financial one caused by the high cost of developing engines. If the engine after development is successful, it results in relatively small orders in peacetime, but if the engine fails to be accepted, the financial results can be disastrous.
Another important reason for national support on engine development is that in the early prototype or production stages, most aircraft engines owe their existence to the military requirements of the country which built them, and rarely do these engines become useful for commercial operation until they have first seen some military service. The Merlin engines, in use on T.C.A.'s North Stars, went through a long operational training on Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancaster Bombers before being used on commercial aircraft.
Therefore, an entirely new type of engine will first meet military requirements, and then have several years of military service to insure a satisfactory degree of reliability before considering it for airline use.
Previous to World War II, several small scale attempts had been made in Canada to build aircraft engines, but these resulted in failure, mainly because of lack of national support.
During the early years of the recent war, as I previously mentioned, our aircraft industry undertook a tremendous programme of expansion. This was required to meet ever increasing demands for both training and operational type aircraft. We were relying, however, on both the United Kingdom and the United States to supply the necessary power plants. This worked out fairly well until the Germans commenced bombing British engine plants, and the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. In the space of a few months the supply o f engines became critical, anti the whole industry was placed in an extremely precarious position. While we did survive the crisis, it served as a lesson in the need for independence, and created the impetus for subsequent developments.
Some thought was given during this period to setting up a Canadian aircraft engine plant, but it was not considered a good time for it. Such a decision would have diverted much needed machinery from where it could be put to more immediate and effective use. Furthermore, it appeared that the setting up of a design and development organization would be slow and difficult and would probably not bear fruit in time to be of use in the war effort.
In 1942 the Canadian Government received word of a development in the U.K. of a new type of aircraft engine of great promise. Anxious to assist in the event of Britain's plants being bombed out, and desirous of entering the aircraft engine field to make Canadian industry more independent, our Government sent men to Britain to study the new power units.
As a result a cold weather test station was set up in this country to test British jets under severe weather conditions and later a Crown-owned company, Turbo
Research Limited, was established to recruit and train young engineers in the new field of jet propulsion.
At the end of the War, the Government decided to transfer the task of engine design and development to private industry. It was at this point our own company, Avro Canada, realizing the importance of the jet engine in our aircraft programme, took over Turbo Research, and in the spring of 1946 transferred staff and facilities to Malton.
Since then we have created and trained a manufacturing organization in this new skill and established facilities for progressive development work in the new field.
These facilities are capable of designing and manufacturing new types of aircraft engines for both military and civil needs to meet conditions peculiar to this country. In doing this we have not only taken definite steps to make the Canadian aircraft industry more independent, but we have offered to Canadian engineers, for the first time, a full scope in the aircraft engine field hitherto available only in other countries.
The first jet engine designed by our Gas Turbine Division was completed and ran in March of this year. We are fortunate indeed in having a young and enthusiastic design team. These men have had the opportunity of studying all the good and bad points of most of the jet engines built by the best British builders, and as a result our first jet engine was designed to eliminate, as much as possible, the troubles which were encountered on previous engines. Our first engine, the "Chinook" is a development engine and is now being used to supply us with the answers for designing and building more powerful engines. These larger engines are already on the design board and under manufacture.
It is not difficult to pretend to do some crystal gazing and forecast what the jet engine industry in Canada is going to be, but I think it would be well to remember that the jet engine is still in its infancy, and I should like to be conservative in my estimates.
Its low power-to-weight ratio, its compactness, ease of maintenance, and its greater aptitude for high altitude, high speed work, makes it the favoured engine for future aircraft.
Our engineers at Malton are betting on it, and I frankly do not think that they will be disappointed. We hope that we, as the first aircraft engine industry in Canada will be able to bring out a product capable of boosting our national pride.
I would again like to thank you for the opportunity of presenting this talk to members and guests of the Empire Club of Canada.