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Canadair Plant One

Canadair was a civil and military aircraft manufacturer in Canadamarker. It was the subsidiary of other aircraft manufacturers and a nationalized corporation until privatized in 1986, and became the core of Bombardier Aerospace.

Canadair's origins lie in the foundation of a manufacturing centre for Canadian Vickers in the Montrealmarker suburb of Saint-Laurentmarker, at Cartierville Airportmarker. Canadair Plant One is still there, although the airport no longer exists.


Absorbing the Canadian Vickers Ltd. operations, Canadair was created on 11 November 1944 as a separate entity by the government of Canada as a manufacturer of patrol PBY Canso flying boats for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Benjamin W. Franklin became its first president. Besides the ongoing PBY contract, a development contract to produce a new variant of the Douglas DC-4 transport, was still in effect. The new Canadair DC-4M powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines emerged in 1946 as the "Northstar."

Canadair Sabre (Golden Hawks aerobatic team) display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario

In the immediate postwar era, Canadair bought the "work in progress" on the existing Douglas DC-3/C-47 series. In 1946, the Electric Boat Company bought a controlling interest in Canadair. The two companies merged to form General Dynamics (GD) in 1952. In 1954, GD purchased Convair and reorganized Canadair as its Canadian subsidiary.

Nationalization and privatization

In 1976, the Canadian government acquired Canadair from US based General Dynamics. It remained a federal crown corporation until 1986 when, having experienced record losses, the Mulroney government sold it to Bombardier Inc. It became the core of Bombardier Aerospace.

As part of Bombardier, Canadair lived on in the series of business jets or regional jets known as "RJ Series" or CRJs. More recently the branding has been dropped, and new projects from all of Bombardier's various aircraft divisions are now known simply as Bombardier Aerospace.


Canadair has a record of several aviation firsts. The CL-44D, based on the Bristol Britannia, was the first design that allowed access by swinging the entire rear fuselage. The CL-89 and CL-289 were the first surveillance drones to be put into service in several countries' armed forces. The CL-84 was the first VTOL aircraft that rotated the wings to achieve vertical lift-off (tiltwing). The CL-215 was the first purposed-designed water bomber.

Canadair had diversity in other projects. The "Canarch" division was involved in curtain wall design and manufacture for a number of buildings. They also produce the cabs for many control towers operated by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States. Both tracked and air-cushioned vehicles were designed, but only a few samples were built.


Product list and details (date information from Canadair)
Aircraft Description Seats Launch date 1st flight 1st delivery Scheduled to cease production
C-4 North Star/Argonaut/C-5
license built conversion of Douglas DC-4
Transport/Airliner Crew: two/three, 52 passengers 1946 1948
Canadair Canadair Sabre (CL-13)
license built North American F-86 Sabre
Fighter Crew: one 1950 1969
Canadair T-33 Shooting Star (CL-30)
license built Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
Trainer/ ECM/ Communication Crew: two 1952 1952
CL-66 / Cosmopolitan
modified Convair CV-540
Transport Crew: two, 52 passengers 1959
Canadair Canadair CF-104 / Starfighter (CL-90)
license built Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
Strike Fighter/Trainer Crew: One/two 1961 1962
CL-89 and CL-289 Surveillance Drones none 1964 1969
CL-215 Water Bomber Crew: two 1967 1969
Canadair CF-5, CF-116 Freedom Fighter, Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter built under licence. Company designation CL-219. Fighter bomber Crew: one/two 1968
CL-415 Water Bomber Crew: two 1993 1994
Challenger Business Jet Crew: two, eight-19 passengers 1980 1986
CRJ-100, -200, -700, -900, and -1000 series Transport Jet Crew: two (plus flight attendants),50-90 passengers 1980s 1990s
Bombardier BRJX Transport Jet Crew: two (plus flight attendants)80-120 passengers
CL-227/Sentinel Remote Controlled Drone none 1980
CL-28 Argus Marine Reconnaissance Crew: up to five (normal flights also included a reserve crew of four) 1957 1980
CL-41 Tutor Trainer Two 1960
CL-84 / Dynavert Vertical/Short Takeoff/landing aircraft Crew: two (up to 15 combat troops could be carried) 1960 1965 late 1960s - No production aircraft
CL-44/CC-106 Yukon Transport Crew: nine, 134 passengers 1959

See also


  • Milberry, Larry. The Canadair North Star. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1982. ISBN 0-07-549965-7.
  • Milberry, Larry. The Canadair Sabre. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1986. ISBN 0-9690703-7-3.
  • Pickler, Ron and Milberry, Larry. Canadair: The First 50 Years. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1995. ISBN 0-921022-07-7.

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