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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Does This Thing Really Fly?

Avro ARROW CF105 Fighter 1959                                                             photo courtesy of ArtEyePhoto

I would not care to have the reader  believe that Incoming Bytes  is eternally earth-bound and contains only  skepticism or criticism,  or that it is  intended  to be so at all times, but the astute reader will also recognize  with incoming news articles, bits and bytes  of information,  timing is everything.  Specific commentary is often better placed immediately.  So be it today.  Recent  announcement by Ottawa that Pratt & Whitney is being loaned $300 million taxpayer dollars  “to create and maintain” jobs is worthy of just that commentary,  and more.

Money itself is not the issue. Governments do waste money.  The loan itself,  funded by the taxpayer, is not the issue.   It is mere peanuts compared to the unnecessary  billion-dollar long gun registry, the unnecessary billion-dollar G-20 Summit security bill, and  other just-as-creative but  unnecessary  government incentives, ad nauseam.  

Don’t misunderstand,  most Canadians will applaud the idea and agree  the ‘creation and maintenance of jobs” is a wonderful thing,  indeed, it is a worthy goal and mandate of any government,  but in recalling the past and comparing it to the present, I do wonder. The memory is long, and curiosity often gets the better of me.    The shadows of political backtracking, inconsistency,   non-transparency, inexplicable decisions,  foolishness and bureaucratic hypocrisy are seemingly brought to the fore.

 In many  ways it is a  shame that the modern Wikileaks was not fully functional in 1959.   That was the year the AVRO  Arrow  was shot down, not by enemy fighters or  terrorists, but  by  Canada’s own slightly frumpy  job-maker and his helpers   who  seemingly  shot Canada  squarely in the foot as they killed off a potential  multi-trillion dollar industry.  Fifty-one years after the AVRO Arrow, -- are the Conservatives changing their minds?  How about some tongue-in-the-cheek?  Can this bird fly?  The Arrow  was  more than capable of flight at Mach 2.0 at 50,000 ft.
For anyone that has any meaningful  recollection of the aircraft industry in Canada, today’s  announcement must bring to mind the absolute contradiction in government policy  with the willful and unprecedented  destruction of the aircraft industry by the same  Conservative government on February 20th, 1959 .

On that date, the highly successful Canadian aircraft and aerospace industry was dealt a mortal blow, as the highly advanced CF-105 AVRO  Arrow fighter  program was scrapped  with little notice,and seemingly little justification then, or since that sad event.

 That government decision was disastrous.   Fourteen thousand aircraft workers, designers, aerospace engineers and hundreds of thousands of spin-off jobs  disappeared overnight, as  successfully-tested prototypes of the  Arrows on the tarmac at A.V. Roe   were ordered quickly chopped into little pieces to be sent for scrap metal and engineering drawings and plans were ordered destroyed. Arrow engineers quickly drifted south to the US industry.

The ARROW was proven to be a technically-advanced,  performance-superior aircraft that was faster, equipped with weaponry that is still used today, and it’s performance  remained  unequaled by any foreign fighter aircraft until the mid-1980's.   With a substantial  market potential for both the aircraft itself and the powerful, all-Canadian Iroquois engine,  the aircraft was all-Canadian and the Canadian aerospace industry was totally viable until the then Prime-Minister of Canada,   John Diefenbaker and his Conservative government shot it down, --if only to make  the American aerospace industry successful instead.
 What happened, and what was the REAL reason?  Worse yet,  at what cost was such an arbitrary, foolish decision made?
Just for the record, Pratt& Whitney is reportedly using that loan to employ 200 more engineers to develop a lighter, more powerful engine, possibly even  to be used in the “new”  F-35's Canada will be purchasing. 
Go figure

Maybe the backwash from that  governmental Arrow  boo-boo has finally caught up.  Extremely  expensive American  F-35's will now be purchased from the US  Aerospace industry to replace the prohibitively expensive but aging  American F-18's previously purchased from the US Aerospace industryIs there any lesson to be observed here?
Will this bird fly, or is the latest loan an official  admission that the fateful  decision made 51 years ago to kill the Arrow  was a “mistake” and has  finally come home to roost?  



  1. I have neighbors who practice this sort of economic exercise. They are indebted, depressed and inefficient at best.
    furthermore, they teach and instill such to their progeny by extension--this may signal a bit of difficulty for local government, as some of this extended family may run for office some day..
    it takes a village to raise a country!
    and the villagers are not well educated; keep entertaining us with the multiple financial cartwheels of the big neighbor to the north.

  2. That's the worrisome aspect isn't it, the foolish mistakes are perpetrated and learned--held up as "good governance" for all to repeat...

  3. Would US President Ronald Reagan have called this Boo-Boo Economics, Raymond?

    This story is damn near heart-breaking. What a sad, discouraging mess. All one can do is shake his head in disbelief.

  4. It is heart-breaking. That technology was ages ahead of anything in existence. It's funny, I was always taught to look at the projects that WON any contest --and then go ahead and try to improve on them. Nothing matched the Arrow for speed performance until 1983 when the Russian MIG finally got up to speed. Can you imagine if they had kept building that plane and improving it? My guess is it was wonderful economics but only for the US, it sure didn't help the 14,000 workers sent home with no notice, --or ALL of the spin-off jobs.. gone instantly. Too sad, huh?


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