Mexican army planes get upgrading in Abbotsford

MP Ed Fast (right) gets a tour of Cascade Aerospace. He is pictured here with Cascade
MP Ed Fast (right) gets a tour of Cascade Aerospace. He is pictured here with Cascade's vice president of operations Stu McIntosh.

Two Mexican army transport planes have temporarily docked at a facility in Abbotsford for upgrading.

Local company Cascade Aerospace gave a tour of its progress on its first international contract to Abbotsford Member of Parliament Ed Fast and to the client, the Mexican Air Force, on Wednesday.

"It's a big opportunity for Cascade, because right now it's our first international foray," said executive vice president and chief operating officer Ben Boehm.

Cascade Aerospace has recently won a bid to modernize the two Mexican Air Force C130K Hercules aircraft. In addition to upgrading the maintenance program and avionics system, the company will train military personnel at its Abbotsford facility.

"It positions us well to start competing in the world market for planes in South America and Southeast Asia, and bring them all here to Abbotsford," said Boehm.

The company hopes to win a contract for work on an additional six to eight Mexican aircraft.

Cascade AerospaceCascade was Abbotsford's largest employer until the new hospital was built in 2008. It remains one of the largest, with about 630 staff at its Townline Rd. location.

"We hope to keep all of that steady for next year, but if we can get a lot more of this international growth, then we can start employing more," said Boehm.

Fast, who also serves as minister of international trade, said it is "very satisfying" to see Canada and Mexico tightening their trade relationship.

"I'm very pleased that Cascade Aerospace has secured another very significant contract with the Mexican government," he said. "Canada and Mexico have a very close trade relationship…To see us now raise the economic engagement between our two countries to this level – very satisfying. It pays off."

The federal government expects trade between Canada and Mexico to continue growing. Fast said that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement currently under negotiation, and Mexico's changing approach to oil and gas exploration, will provide more opportunities for the two countries to work together in the future.

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