Maria Della Posta
President, Pratt & Whitney Canada
Vice President, Business Development & Commercial Services, Pratt & Whitney Canada
Vice President, Human Resources, Pratt & Whitney Canada
Sustainability, a highly skilled workforce, and innovation are top priorities in aviation — and Pratt & Whitney Canada is leading the way.
Canada’s aerospace and aviation industry is one of the largest in the world. Worldwide, the aviation industry employs over 11 million people, and in 2019, 4.5 billion passengers were carried by the world’s airlines. Though the COVID-19 pandemic devastated airlines, the industry is seeing a massive upturn that boasts continual improvement and innovation, along with exciting career opportunities.
A Canadian success story
The aviation industry has been on the cutting edge for decades with improvements in efficiency and noise. Despite these ongoing advances, the challenge that climate change presents to the world is still an opportunity for the global aviation industry to improve its sustainability through new technologies.
Current trends in aviation include a push toward sustainability, enabling the industry to support social priorities, global security, and economic growth while making environmentally responsible choices. With the growing urgency to address climate change and the need to ensure sustainable growth in global air connectivity, companies like Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC), a global aerospace leader headquartered in Longueuil, Que., are showing exemplary commitment in helping the industry work toward net-zero emissions.
Other key trends in aviation include creating the workforce of the future — fostering interest in the aviation field to build a talent pipeline and preparing the workforce for Industry 4.0.
Smarter, cleaner, greener
The Canadian aerospace and aviation industry is focused on ensuring a responsible and sustainable future for our planet. Canadian companies are doing their part to transition to climate-conscious technologies to help Canada reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Canada is uniquely positioned as we’re among the few countries that have the industry ecosystem, training apparatus, and technologies to help aviation make the transition to smarter technology, cleaner fuel, and greener business,” says Maria Della Posta, President of P&WC.
Indeed, P&WC is leading the charge. Its strategy focuses on advancing smarter technologies, enabling aviation’s transition toward cleaner fuels, and protecting the environment through greener business and manufacturing practices.
“As a leading developer of aircraft propulsion systems with experience across civil, commercial, and military applications, we recognize that our products have a significant role in making the net-zero goal a reality, both through our drive to continually explore innovative technologies to improve engine efficiency and through our work to enable the use of non-fossil-based alternative fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and hydrogen,” says Scott McElvaine, Vice President of Business Development at P&WC.
The future of aviation
P&WC is helping create a more sustainable future for aviation by making aircraft engines ready for the transition to SAFs, and its engineers are leading the way with next-generation propulsion technologies that’ll further reduce emissions, including ultra-high bypass ratio and thermally efficient engines, hybrid-electric engines, and hydrogen-powered engines.
In collaboration with Collins Aerospace and Raytheon Technologies, P&WC recently achieved a successful first engine run of a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator — a meaningful step toward improving fuel efficiency by 30 per cent. The company is also working on hydrogen propulsion. The Hydrogen Steam Injected, Inter-Cooled Turbine Engine, or HySIITE project, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, looks to develop propulsion technology that takes full advantage of the cryogenic properties of liquid hydrogen fuel. The latest generation of its products, such as the PW800 and the PW1500 on the Airbus A220, already deliver double-digit efficiency improvements and the recent engine launches, including last year’s PW127XT, deliver further improvements on already best-in-class performance.
The workforce of today and tomorrow
With all the innovations underway, the aviation industry is undoubtedly an exhilarating place to work. Careers in the industry promise exciting projects and challenges, abundant opportunities for professional development, and a sense of purpose. And the opportunities are plentiful — currently, the industry supplies over 207,000 Canadian jobs.
“Working in aviation means you have a chance to touch thousands of lives,” says Della Posta. “Every second, a P&WC-powered aircraft takes off or lands somewhere on the planet, whether they’re driving commerce, reuniting families, or powering humanitarian missions, emergency medical services, or search and rescue missions.”
This industry creates some of the world’s foremost ground-breaking technologies and solutions. As the industry evolves and grows, so do the associated career opportunities. “Since P&WC’s inception close to 100 years ago, the way we work and the nature of roles in the industry have consistently evolved,” says Caroline Maso, Vice President of Human Resources at P&WC. “Over the past decade, there has been a steady rise of technology and digitalization.”
Empowering future leaders
As the aerospace industry moves toward Industry 4.0 with the advancement of automation and artificial intelligence within the manufacturing space, there’s a need for increased manufacturing and engineering talent, particularly in forward-looking fields such as data analytics, advanced manufacturing, and artificial intelligence. P&WC collaborates with universities and specialized schools in Canada to foster a talent pipeline.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion power innovation for the aerospace industry. “Our corporate culture fosters empowerment, growth, inclusion, and belonging,” says Maso. “We encourage our colleagues to bring their whole selves to work every day.”
Innovative Canadian companies like P&WC offer a variety of career opportunities across functions, including engineering, advanced manufacturing, digital technology, engine assembly, customer service, and program management. P&WC also offers several development opportunities, including internships, co-ops, college graduate programs, and leadership development programs, to name a few.
Celebrating one billion flying hours and 60 years of an iconic engine
Over the past 95 years, P&WC’s engines have reached one billion flying hours. “That’s a lot of time in the air, a lot of learnings, and a real competitive advantage, which benefits our customers and our operators, who can then succeed in achieving their valuable missions,” says Della Posta.
P&WC’s PT6 engine, which is responsible for more than half of those flying hours, has also reached its 60th anniversary. The PT6 engine, known for its reliability, boasts a big network and many passionate followers, and is the most prevalent and versatile engine in aviation, being used in helicopters as well as regional transports and general aviation aircraft. It powers a broad range of missions, including humanitarian aid missions, emergency medical services, and agriculture-related flights.
The PT6 engine has also brought breakthrough advancements in performance, control systems, and data intelligence. Building on its innovative spirit, in 2019 P&WC introduced the first dual channel integrated electronic propeller and engine control system in the general aviation space making an iconic engine, even better. The launch of the PT6 E-SeriesTM engine is an example of how the company is driving forward rapid, fundamental change and innovation in the industry.
Powering the world
“The PT6 engine is very much a product of the talented engineers, machinists, and mechanics that collaborated on creating several new gas turbine engines in the late 1950s and early 1960s,” says Della Posta. “Gas turbines had already revolutionized military aircraft and airliners, increasing speed and safety. The determined group of P&WC employees wanted to bring the performance, reliability, and durability of gas turbines to smaller airplanes and helicopters.” And that legacy of innovation hasn’t changed. The company has grown from that first product line to over a dozen product families today.
Since then, P&WC has only increased in its productiveness and success. “Aerospace has the power to change the world,” says Della Posta.
The aircraft we power are tools of productivity and commerce, opening new markets to the world and introducing the world to new communities and cultures.
They’re also instruments of compassion, bringing food, medicine, and hope to people in remote, under-privileged areas. They enable social and familial bonds by powering the mobility of flight that unites families, strengthens relationships, and creates a sense of belonging. And lastly, they’re purveyors of the public good — saving lives, fighting fires, and protecting countries and communities.”
Visit pwc.ca to learn more or pwc.ca/careers to explore job opportunities.