The Future of the Air Industry in Canada
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 10 Dec 1959, p. 138-146
Hees, The Honourable George H., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
The tremendous increase in passenger traffic over the past ten years and the wide variety of demands it has brought with it. A review of developments over the past ten years, and currently, in terms of equipment, facilities, and service. Some statistics for the terminal at Malton. The complexity of the operation at Malton, with many details. An appreciation of the technological advancements being made. Some thoughts on the future of the air industry and what it will mean to us in Canada.
Date of Original
10 Dec 1959
Language of Item
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
An Address by THE HONOURABLE GEORGE H. HEES, M.P. Minister of Transport
Thursday, December 10th, 1959
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. Harold R. Lawson.

MR. LAWSON: Our subject is "The Future of the Air Industry in Canada". We will hear something about this during the next half-hour, but it is interesting to note that, by changing the words of the subject around, we have an axiomatic statement on which we can all agree at the outset. "The future of Canada is--or depends on--the air industry." It is a matter of great gratification to most of us, I am sure, that this sine qua non of our future as one of the great nations of the world is not to take the form of a government monopoly. For this we are indebted in a large measure to our Guest of Honour today.

Our speakers for the past three weeks have come from Newfoundland, British Columbia and Manitoba, in that order. Today, for a change, we welcome a native son, a home town boy who has made good. It is doubly gratifying, after being reminded last week that the Blue Bombers had won the Grey Cup for the second year in a row, to have with us a man who once played on a Grey Cup-winning Toronto Argonaut team--several years ago! We may well wonder how the course of history might have been changed, both in politics and in sports, had George Hees not retired from the Argonauts (who have not done too well since) and later accepted the Chairmanship of the National Progressive Conservative Association (which is doing all right).

As things turned out he has been the federal member for Toronto-Broadview for the past nine years and the Minister of Transport for the past two. In this capacity he administers an annual budget of $250 million and heads a department with 15,000 employees, not counting the 120,000 in the C.N.R. and T.C.A. His vast sphere of influence and responsibility in Canadian affairs might be summed up by saying, "If it moves, it comes under George Hees." His interest in the air industry and his belief in competitive enterprise are well known, but on these matters I am going to let him speak for himself.

It is an honour to present the Minister of Transport, the Hon. George H. Hees.

MR. HEES: One might easily describe this 20th Century as the age of exaggeration, or the day of the superlative. More often than not, such exaggeration stems from habit, but in some instances it is an honest attempt to describe that which strains the user's imagination. The future of aviation in our country is a subject of the latter type, for here, certainly, one's imaginative faculties can be given free rein.

Looking back at the growth of air traffic in Canada within the past ten years, one can easily understand why prognosticators are so ready to admit the inadequacy of their forecasts. In that short period of time, we have seen domestic passenger traffic skyrocket from one million to nearly five million passengers a year, while international services will, this year, carry more than a million and a half people to or from Canada--an increase of five times the number carried ten years ago. In the same ten years, the cargo handled by Canadian carriers has increased from 50,000 tons to five times that volume today.

This tremendous increase in the past ten years has brought with it a wide variety of demands for things bigger and better. There has been the continuous demand for bigger and faster planes, bigger air terminals, and longer runways.

Early next year, the DC-8--a plane which can carry 160 passengers at a speed of close to 600 m.p.h.--will make its appearance on regular T.C.A. runs from Montreal to London, and from Toronto to Vancouver. C.P.A. will shortly follow with the same type of equipment.

The development of runways to cope with these planes has challenged the construction engineer. When he was told to plan runways for the DC-4, he had to think in terms of a bearing strength of 73,000 lbs., and take-off requirement of 5,000 feet. The slide rules are more extended these days! The DC-8 weighs 315,000 lbs., or more than 4 times as much, and requires a runway of 10,000 ft., or double that required by the DC-4. Runways of that standard have been built at nine of our airports, and more will be appearing soon.

Capital expenditures to provide the many, many facilities demanded by civil aviation have already passed the $400 million mark. A very significant part of the program has been devoted to airport terminal buildings, and activity there has reached its peak in the last three years. Within the next two years, the country will have an imposing line of terminals from coast to coast:

We have major new terminals already in use at Gander, Stephenville, Torbay, Quebec, Windsor and Saskatoon. Next year will see completion at Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal, and Regina. We expect to complete construction at Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton by 1964. No doubt you are particularly interested in Malton. Already, numerous airport authorities of other countries have shown a keen interest. Well they should, too, for the design of this terminal is unique.

Investment to date at Malton totals $17 million. In the next few years $20 million more will be spent on requirements now known. On top of all this, there are numerous items which traffic growth may demand.

Let us take a quick look at the statistics for this terminal. Perhaps they should be called "vital statistics"--for here is a building which will hum with life. Picture a building 600 feet in diameter, covering nearly 8 acres. Speaking comparatively--the present terminal has an area of 38,000 sq. ft.--this will have an area of 500,000 sq. ft., or 13 times as large.

Here are some more eye-opening figures:--a refrigeration plant sufficient to freeze 2,500 tons of ice per day; the water supply would satisfy a town of 12,000 people; the heat requirement is the equal of that for 1,500 houses.

So much for size. But the outstanding feature is the built-in convenience. Here we will have a circular building, around which aircraft will park before many exits. The passenger will thus have a minimum of walking before he enplanes. Furthermore, the design overcomes the frequent criticism that the parking lot is too far away. Here, at the centre of the structure, there will be a carpark of several stories.

In designing this layout, we have been governed by a present-past-and-future traffic flow as follows: 1959, slightly over 1 million passengers; on completion of the structure, approximately 2 millions; by 1971, a figure in excess of 4 millions.

Satisfactory progress is being made on the initial phases of the construction. The future schedule calls for completion in about four years. Without a doubt, we will have here a terminal unsurpassed anywhere in the world, whether it be judged from the viewpoint of smoothness, quick handling and economy for the airline operator, or the equally important needs and convenience of the air traveller.

The emphasis which we are placing on terminal construction is borne out by the upward surge in expenditure. In 1957, we spent $8.5 millions; in 1958, $13.5 millions. For the current year, the allotment is over $20 millions.

Terminal construction is one activity which is constantly beset by an extraordinary number of handicaps. To the Public, the building is just another structure, although it does have unusual size, and some different features. Actually, a terminal is a facility which can be likened to a small community. It has stores, restaurants, parking lots, concessions, business offices, display centres, electrical and heating systems, intricate communications systems, etc.

Not only is our terminal building programme big in terms of numbers of buildings and total expenditure required--which means that it has to be spread out over quite a period of years--but it is an extremely complex programme.

A terminal building is not just another office building. It is an intricate project which has to include planning for ramp areas, aircraft handling, refuelling systems, and special technical installations such as radio aids to navigation, radar units and traffic control equipment. Planning has to take account, not just of the current situation in aviation, but of types of equipment and methods of traffic handling that will be in existence fifteen years from now.

With rapidly changing techniques in aviation, this is no easy problem, and plans have to be re-drawn many times to adjust to rapidly changing developments. Plans also have to take account of traffic growth, and be such that in addition to meeting the requirements of technical change, there is reasonable room for traffic expansion.

Moreover, the views of widely varying groups have to be taken into account, ranging from air traffic control, meteorology, communications, to Customs and Immigration, and the airline companies themselves, which, quite often, have widely differing points of view. It is natural that, with the art of development of terminal buildings changing so rapidly, every time a new development at another airport almost anywhere in the world comes along, a request reaches us to incorporate it.

Our own experience, as well as the experience with regard to large terminals in other countries, has emphasized that with a major terminal project such as Montreal or Toronto, we should allow two to three years for planning purposes, and four to five years for construction of the building and related facilities.

Here is an industry which is advancing in head-long fashion, and changing almost daily in its techniques. So far, it has shown no evidence of a slowdown in its impetuous pace.

Almost daily the number of air travel enthusiasts increases. But how many of us have a true appreciation of the technological advancements which are enabling us to enjoy the benefits? To the greater number of us, advancement or progress means only faster planes, more comfortable seats, easier reservations, bigger waiting rooms, closer parking areas, better restaurants, and so forth. Seldom does the aviation meteorologist, the communications engineer,

or the air traffic control expert, receive his share of the credit.

Take the case of the overlooked meteorologist. His forecasts may form an important part of our work-a-day lives. But his association with the commercial pilot is a case of "togetherness" pure and simple. The pilot must have that final briefing before he departs. These forecasts for aviation--on terminal conditions, on-route upper winds, conditions at alternate fields, etc., are the most highly specialized of all. A few years ago these forecasts were designed for flights at the 15,000-foot level. Today they must extend to the 35,000-foot level.

Visit an airport weather office and witness the banks of teletype machines, pouring forth a stream of weather data--75 words per minute, 24 hours a day, for every day of the year. The weather network extends over 40,000 miles in Canada. It is linked to a similar network in the U.S.A., as well as by cable to weather offices overseas. Still greater refinement is being sought by the use of closed-circuit TV, weather radar, intricate electronic devices for automatic measurement of cloud heights, etc.

Air traffic control is one of the most challenging features of aviation. Here is an operation which has come a long, long way in a very short time. At the outset, the pioneer pilot himself determined when and where he would flyand a mighty fine job he did of it too! What a different picture we have across our Canadian airways now! Every aircraft flying in an airway must file a Flight Plan, and its altitude, speed and course are under the watchful eye of the air traffic controller, and of radar sets. And the pilot knows that when he approaches the airport, assistance is available.

Obviously the next step will be a move toward automation--electronic computers to assist beleaguered traffic controllers. And with the advent of the jet, the demand is constant for improvement and more improvement, for time lost is revenue lost.

What does the future hold for Canadian aviation as it jet-propels itself into the second half-century of its existence? Lacking the foresight of a Leonardo da Vinci, or the assistance of an electronic computer of supernatural ability, one must go to the traditional crystal ball. There, the image is one of a bright future.

From the days of our intrepid bush pilots, to whom we owe an everlasting "Thank you" for their exploits down to the present day, our air operators have demonstrated unbounded imagination and confidence. I haven't any doubt they will continue to show those qualities, thus assuring retention of the proud position Canada has assumed in the field of aviation.

They will have their problems. The jets fly high, and they also are priced high. But don't overlook the key point--more tons per mile and passengers per mile; in other words, increased productivity. Listen to the expert in the international field, and one of his pet phrases is, "We haven't scratched the surface yet!" He talks in terms of application of the multiplication factor 4 to show potential traffic by 1970. And are the designers content? Not by a long sight. Already we hear whisperings of "Mach 3", and the supersonic era!

Interesting developments are occurring in the VTOL (vertical-take-off-and-landing) areas; helicopter enthusiasts have great expectations--use of the rotary type for fire fighting; for short distance flying in built-up areas; for controlling highway traffic at congested points; for heavy lift operations where these "flying cranes" would lift, for example, a prefabricated house, and so on.

It is stimulating to speculate on what we may see in the fields of aviation fifteen or twenty years from now. We are doing firm planning on a ten-year basis because we believe that we can foresee many of the technical changes and developments within that period, as well as expected lines of growth; but when we stretch our vision beyond that period, all we can do is say that further technical development of which we are aware, will, in part at least, have materialized and will bring further amazing changes.

It is quite likely that fifteen to twenty years from now we will be carrying over 30 million domestic air passengers a year in Canada, and over 10 million passengers to and from Canada a year on international flights. While on the middle range flights, we may not have progressed in terms of speed and facilities much beyond the jet era which we are now entering, these passengers will by that time be accustomed to moving at 600 miles an hour instead of 200 or 300 miles an hour, and will take this as a matter of course; and if they are delayed for ten minutes, they will continue to complain just as they do now.

On the longer range flights from coast to coast and across the Atlantic, we will probably see a supersonic plane in operation which will be flying at a speed of about 1,800 miles an hour and at a height of 75,000 feet. This will make it possible to cross the continent in one and a half hours; and cross the Atlantic in well under two hours. By that time many of the operations will have become automatically controlled through radar and electronic devices.

Aircraft can now land in conditions of poor visibility in which flight was unheard of ten to fifteen years ago. Within the period I have mentioned, this will be expanded to include automatic "blind landing" systems which will, in fact, land the aircraft exactly on the runway in conditions of complete lack of visibility. In such circumstances a pilot would be a monitor of instruments rather than a person actually flying the aircraft.

I also expect a major change in aviation in relation to shorter haul traffic. The problem here has been twofold. The time required to travel from the city to the airport at each end of the flight nullifies the advantage of using aircraft on shorter distances, while the cost on such shorter distances has been abnormally high in relation to other forms of transportation. The helicopter, which a few years ago was heralded as the instrument to change this situation, has not made the breakthrough which was expected, but other variations of this type of transportation are emerging, such as the rotodyne, which is a combination of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter.

Once you have the possibility of vertical take-off and landing, you can do direct city-to-city short haul operations in a manner which eliminates the long drives to and from an airport. Technically this is feasible now, but it needs to be worked out in relation to all-weather flying, and in terms of better cost, to achieve the economic and operational basis which will make it a reliable form of transportation. When this does happen, it will revolutionize the shorter distance transportation of passengers.

In cargo flying, growth will continue, and just as the railways are now doing piggy-back operations with trailers, we should see some form of combined aircraft-ground operation; planes combined with trucks to offer direct express and cargo services by use of through pallets or pods, in an integrated air, road and possibly rail movement.

The foregoing should all be possible without even talking about radically new technical developments in aviation, such as the hovercraft or aircar, which moves about a few feet from the ground on a cushion of air; or the Flying Saucer being developed by Canadian Avro, which holds promise of major development along completely new and unusual lines.

I am convinced that great possibilities lie ahead for those nations that are able to reap the benefits which the jet age makes possible.

This is particularly true in a nation the size of Canada geographically, where air transport has penetrated into areas never before touched by mechanized transport, and where flying is no longer an adventure for the few, but has become a conventional mode of transport for many.

One thing is sure, and that is that the future of aviation in Canada is exciting. If we combine sound planning with imagination, aviation will be both profitable and practical. By its geography, both domestically and internationally, Canada and the jet age are natural partners. The Department of Transport will do all it can to make this partnership a most fruitful one.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. Marvin Gelber.

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The Future of the Air Industry in Canada

The tremendous increase in passenger traffic over the past ten years and the wide variety of demands it has brought with it. A review of developments over the past ten years, and currently, in terms of equipment, facilities, and service. Some statistics for the terminal at Malton. The complexity of the operation at Malton, with many details. An appreciation of the technological advancements being made. Some thoughts on the future of the air industry and what it will mean to us in Canada.