The University of Waterloo was awarded nearly $10 million in federal funding to rebuild Canada's pandemic-battered aeronautics sector and position it for a more sustainable future. The funding comes through the FedDev Ontario Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative and will support ground-breaking research by the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA) as it explores new technologies, processes and policies to help the industry become more resilient and meet its net-zero emissions goal by 2050.

As the recovery from the pandemic continues, the aviation and aerospace industries have a unique opportunity to explore and embrace new, potentially revolutionary technology to do their part in the fight against climate change. Worldwide, these industries are responsible for two to three percent of all emissions. Since the industry is expected to continue to expand, emissions produced by this industry will also grow unless steps are taken toward greater sustainability.

WISA will mobilize the interdisciplinary research capabilities of Waterloo's six faculties to move forward with sustainable solutions.

Today's federal investment will support several initiatives with environmental, social and economic sustainability at their core. Examples include:

Support for research that has a direct impact on the aeronautics sector. The approved projects could experiment with hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels, design solar-powered hangars, pioneer networks of electric chargers for e-planes or expand the capabilities for remotely piloted aircraft and autonomous flight.

A new partnership between WISA, the Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre and the Region of Waterloo International Airport, including a new "Innovation Hub" at the airport where the flight centre can expand its flight-training capacity. In addition, the Innovation Hub will be a testing ground for green technologies and new training methods.

Support for innovative sustainable aeronautics start-ups, which will be identified through special pitch competitions and selected for their economic and job creation potential.

Two new professional development e-learning courses are designed to teach the aviation workforce how to make the sector more sustainable and reduce its environmental footprint.

WISA's director, Dr. Suzanne Kearns, believes WISA — the first institute of its kind in Canada — can play a vital role in this shift towards sustainability. When WISA launched in the fall of 2021, its mission was to become the world's leading hub for research, technology and education to build a sustainable future for the aviation, aerospace and space industries.