by Christopher Guly
OTTAWA, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Canada needs to keep pace with rapidly changing global conditions if it wants to build on its past achievements in the aerospace and space sectors, according to a new review of the industries.
The country's aerospace industry is the fifth largest in the world, generating more than 22 billion Canadian dollars (22.12 billion U.S. dollars) in annual revenues and employing about 66,000 people, according to the two-volume report recently released by an aerospace review advisory council for the Canadian government.
However, citing increasing competition on the international arena, the report recommends that Canada seek bilateral aerospace cooperation both with traditional partners like the United States and with emerging powers like China and India.
Meanwhile, Canada's 3.4-billion-Canadian-dollar (3.42-billion-U.S.-dollar) space industry, which derives 80 percent of its revenue from satellite communications and generates half of its revenue from sales abroad, is at a crossroads.
"Space has been important to Canada over the last half century, but not nearly as important as it will be over the next half century," said the report, highlighting Canada's past achievements in space.
Canada became the third country to design and build its own satellites in 1962, and the first country to have a domestic communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit 10 years later.
The review calls on the government to establish a space advisory council, saying the federal industry minister, who is responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, should present annual priorities for Canada's space program to the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning, chaired by the prime minister.
Noting that "things have changed" since the first Canadian-made Dash-7 came on the market in 1975, former federal Industry Minister David Emerson, who headed the review, urged Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be "very, very active promoting" the country's aerospace and space industries overseas.
In response to the report, Industry Canada released a background document highlighting the government's financial support for both sectors, including 827 million Canadian dollars (831.6 million U.S. dollars) toward funding 26 advanced research and development aerospace projects, along with 497 million Canadian dollars (499.8 million U.S. dollars) for the RADARSAT Constellation program, and 110 million Canadian dollars (110.6 million U.S. dollars) for space robotics.
The RADARSAT Constellation program is a three-satellite configuration that will provide complete coverage of Canada's land and oceans, with satellite launches planned for 2016 and 2017.
"Canada's aerospace industry is ready and willing to do its part," said David Schellenberg, board chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada.
The association, which represents the country's aerospace manufacturing and services sector, cited several recommendations of the aerospace review that have potential, positive "game-changing" impacts.
According to the review, making aerospace a centerpiece of Canada's international trade agenda will demonstrate the government's commitment to the country's international aerospace industry, encourage state-to-state partnerships with emerging aerospace powers, and improve Canadian access to foreign markets.