Spar began as the Special Products and Applied Research division of the deHavilland Canada aircraft company. This division was heavily involved in the Avro Arrow project, which was cancelled by the Diefenbaker Government in 1959. A management buyout took place in 1967 and the newly formed company was publicly listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1968. In 2001, Spar was bought by L-3 Communications Corporation, a New York City-based merchant supplier of communications and aerospace equipment.
The company was founded by a group of entrepreneurs and engineers, led by Larry Clarke OC, who recognized the excitement and tremendous business potential of the aerospace industry. Spar's expertise, in fact, helped Canada to become the third nation in space. In the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, Spar designed and built some of the most powerful communications and remote sensing satellites of the time as well as the famed Canadarm robotic arm used on the Space Shuttle.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the space business began to consolidate and became dominated by multi-billion dollar U.S. companies, creating intense competition for many of Spars products and services. In 1997 Spar embarked on a plan to restructure the company, divesting businesses which were either not profitable or had limited growth prospects, and reinvesting sale proceeds in higher growth areas, namely aviation services.
By the end of 1999, Spar had exited the space and communications industries and was solely focused on the aviation services business. Today, Spar Aerospace is a thriving aviation services company with three primary lines of business: Aircraft Programs, Component MRO and Support Services.
The Aircraft Programs line of business was formed through the acquisition of CAE Aviation in 1998, which brought competencies on the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, Boeing 737, and other aircraft. The acquired business, which had been operating for more than 50 years and servicing Hercules Aircraft for nearly 40 years, is one of only 12 Lockheed Martin Approved Service Centers in the world. Specific capabilities include reliability and maintainability analysis, engineering and configuration management, and major structural and avionics upgrades. One of Spars most successful projects is the Avionics Update Project (AUP) which integrates new avionics, a flight management system, and a digital autopilot into the cockpit of the Canadian Forces fleet of Hercules transport aircraft. Spar is currently bidding on other AUP contracts for foreign militaries around the world.
For 30 years, Spar has been performing the maintenance repair and overhaul of electrical, mechanical, and pneumatic aircraft components, including helicopter dynamic components, constant speed drives and ground power units. In particular, Spar services the dynamic components on the Sikorsky S-61/Sea King helicopters for the Canadian Forces and other customers. The acquisition of Godfrey Aerospace in 1996 provided Spar with original equipment manufacturer capabilities for ground power equipment.
Spar provides management, support, publication and training services for the Canadian Forces and other customers. Spars Support Services business also includes Spars 20% equity interest in IAMCO, a joint venture company formed in 1991 and based in Venice, Italy, which provides turnkey maintenance for NATOs fleet of AWACS aircraft.
Together, these three lines of business provide Spar with the expertise to deliver turnkey aviation services to our military and commercial customers for both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.