BARRY’S BAY – During the regularly scheduled Zurakowski Park committee meeting, on September 12 at the township office, there was a buzz in the air about a locally connected topic that is alive in the international media; the Avro Arrow.
The monument of the well-known aircraft sits on the park grounds, and was established in early 2003 as a way to remember Barry’s Bay resident Janusz Zurakowski, who was the first test pilot of the Arrow.
The highly advanced, all-weather supersonic interceptor jet was developed by Canada, through the Avro company, in the 1950’s.
Official production of the aircraft began in 1955, with the rollout of the first CF-105, which was marked as model RL-201, happening on October 4, 1957. The Avro company wanted the event to be a massive success, and sent invitations to more than 13,000 guests to attend the rollout ceremony.
In the end, though, any media attention was fairly insignificant as the Sputnik launched on the exact same day.
After encountering a few problems, such as the heavy engine weight of the J75 and some needed modifications to the Astra fire-control system, the Arrow still needed some time to develop.
On March 25, 1958, Zurakowski flew the RL-201 for the first time.
The flight was marked a major success for the Arrow and showed no serious design flaws and excellent overall
After the creation of multiple prototypes, however, and the conducting of test flights, the entire project was canned in 1959 and never went into full production.
In a public address in the House of Commons on February 20, 1959, Prime Minister Diefenbaker stated: “The government…has made a thorough examination in the light of all the information available concerning the probable nature of the threats to…North America in the future years, the alternative means of defence against such threats, and the estimated cost thereof. The conclusion arrived at is that the development of the Arrow aircraft and Iroquois engine should be terminated now.”
Fifty years later, history seems to be repeating itself.
Recently, on the Global Television News program The West Block, Major General Lewis MacKenzie was interviewed about a Canadian company’s bid to present the Canadian Air Force with the Avro Arrow CF-105 as an alternative to the CF-35A Lightning II.
The CF-35A, or F-35, is Canada’s current military stealth fighter, and is designed and manufactured by the American company Lockheed Martin.
On the The West Block, MacKenzie stated that the basic design of the Arrow still outperforms and exceeds any current fighter jet and that it is specifically tailored for Canada’s needs.
The proposal that was put forth by Bourdeau Industries, a company which has offices both in Canada and the United Kingdom, also boasted a lower production cost of $11.73 billion for the Arrow, as opposed to the current $16 billion that the F-35 will demand.
The plan also showed detailed information about the flight ceiling of the Arrow, and that the plane could fly 20,000 feet higher than the current F-35.
Beyond the obvious military and aerospace benefits of the Canadian aircraft, the project would also create a Canadian-made airplane and thousands of jobs, pumping billions of dollars back into the Canadian economy.
In June, however, the plan was rejected by the Harper government, and ultimately cast off as something that would consume far too much time and money to execute.
Obviously, there would be many details involved with the passing of a second bid but there seems to be an emerging effort, both locally and internationally, to at least have the Harper government take a second look at the idea.
Story continues in the September 19, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.