Spar Aerospace

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SPAR Aerospace was a Canadian aerospace company. It produced equipment for the Canadian Space Agency to be used in cooperation with NASA's Space Shuttle program, most notably the Canadarm remote manipulator system.

It is today a part of MacDonald Dettwiler as MD Robotics, a subsidiary of its MDA Space Missions division. As part of MDA, it developed Canadarm2 for the International Space Station.


The Edmonton-based company L-3 Communications/SPAR (Special Products and Applied Research) Aerospace Ltd. was formed by the merger of de Havilland Canada’s Special Products division (i.e. Alouette 1) and Avro Canada's Applied Research unit (i.e. CF-105 Arrow). In 1967 SPAR was bought out by its senior management and in 1967 shares were issued to the public. SPAR Aerospace Ltd. expanded into Western Canada by taking over CAE Aviation Services, formerly Northwest Industries (NWI) Limited in Edmonton, Alberta. Shortly after, SPAR's robotics division located in Brampton, Ontario was acquired by MacDonald Dettwiler, while the MRO division in Edmonton was acquired by L-3 Communications.

SPAR Aerospace Ltd. maintained the Canadian Air Force's CC-130 Hercules for several decades, including performing of the Center Wing and Outer Wing replacement programs, Progressive Structural Inspection (PSI) program, Tanker program, Avionics Upgrade Program (AUP) and Hercules Airframe and Wiring System Refurbishment (HAWSR) programs. SPAR's major projects included the complete overhaul of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 40-year-old C-130 Hercules aircraft. Other customers included the Royal Norwegian Air Force, United States Coast Guard, and Greece's Hellenic Air Force. SPAR performed several avionics upgrades and a Depot Level Inspection and Repair (DLIR) for the Canadian Forces Air Command CL-41 Tutor aircraft flown by the Snowbirds acrobatic team.

SPAR also constructed satellites: Anik-E, Olympus 1s (L-SAT), and Radarsat 1.[1]

SPAR's Edmonton facilities and workforce (both the City Center and the International Airport locations) were permanently shut down at the end of summer 2009 after over 4 decades of production and service.

Current Facilities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Funding Universe
  • Beckert, Beverly A., 'Satellite Design Soars to New Heights,' Computer-Aided Engineering, October 1993, p. 24.
  • Berman, David, 'When Bad Companies Happen to Good People,' Canadian Business, March 27, 1998, pp. 78–81.
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  • Covault, Craig, 'Ariane Launches Canadian MSat-1,' Aviation Week and Space Technology, April 29, 1996, p. 29.
  • De Santis, Solange, 'In Reaching to Diversify, Spar Aerospace Loses Its Grip—New Chief at Maker of Canadarm Has Hands Full with Leftover Problems,' Wall Street Journal, June 26, 1996, p. B4.
  • Hubbard, Craig, 'Shuttle's Canadarm Earns Its 50-Mission Cap,' Computing Canada, August 10, 1998, p. 4.
  • Knapp, Bill, 'Masters of the Universe,' Canadian Business, November 1992, pp. 119–24.
  • Litvak, Isaiah A., 'Instant International: Strategic Reality for Small High-Technology Firms in Canada,' Multinational Business, Summer 1990, pp. 1–12.
  • Morgan, Walter L., 'The Olympus Family,' Satellite Communications, June 1985, p. 35ff.
  • Savona, Dave, and Stephen W. Quickel, 'Steel's New Gleam; Sparring Partner,' International Business, March 1993, p. 126.
  • Southerst, John, 'An Arm with a Mind of Its Own,' Canadian Business, March 1992, pp. 60–64.
  • 'Spar Aerospace Launches New Data Collection System,' Plant Engineering & Maintenance, March/April 1993, pp. 15–18.
  • 'The Year of Living Differently,' Canadian Business, June 1997, p. 16.
  • Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 32. St. James Press, 2000.

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