Lessons from Avro Arrow

More than 60 years after the debacle happened, documents explaining the cancellation of the C105 Avro Arrow project are finally being released.

The assumption at the time was the requirement of jet fighters/interceptors was waning in light of revelations the (then) USSR switched priorities from long-distance strategic bombers to inter-continental ballistic missiles.

A number of pertinent questions remain. If the requirement of high-speed military jet aircraft was waning, why did/does the U.S. continue developing and deploying this type of aircraft? How could Canadian intelligence get this so wrong? If the reasons given were true, why were they kept secret for so many years unnecessarily? Why were the completed aircraft destroyed in a botched display of attempted secrecy? Why was the excellent, ground-breaking Avro Iroquois engine, mutilated to the point they couldn’t be tested further and test documentation disappeared?

It’s amazing how quickly the American defence industry snapped up all those Canadian engineers who worked on the Arrow program. What did we get in return for these innovative, talented people? The useless BOMARC missile, which never worked as advertised.

Now it’s deja-vu with our water bomber situation. Again, Canadian aircraft designers/engineers build a ground-breaking aircraft. The Canadair CL215/415 water-bombers— The best aircraft of its type in the world.

Like the Arrow, it was designed and built from the ground-up for its specific purpose. And, like the Arrow, the federal government dropped the ball. It allowed/gifted production of this plane to Bombardier.

In 2010, Bombardier decided there was not enough demand to continue production of this aircraft. Executive jets were a more important priority for Canada’s biggest “corporate welfare” recipient.

When will we learn?

Andrew Kiesewetter, West Kelowna

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