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MDS Aero Support Corporation (MDS Aero Support) is a supplier of turnkey gas turbine engine and engine component test facilities. Based in Ottawa, with operations in Thompson, Manitoba, this Canadian company counts world’s manufacturers, such as Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, General Electric and Siemens, among its biggest clients.

Read how MDS Aero Support used CCC’s government to government (G2G) contracts to win its first major contract for a large-scale turnkey engine testing facility in North Africa and many more subsequent contracts.

About MDS Aero Support

Founded in 1985, MDS started off as a construction company in Montreal, Quebec. The company moved into the aerospace and gas turbine engine testing business when it received an opportunity from Canada’s Department of National Defence. In 1993, with the help of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, MDS Aero Support leaped onto the international stage and has not looked back since. 

Using G2G for first large-scale turnkey engine testing facility  

In the 1990s, MDS Aero Support was new to the highly specialized turbine engine test cell market and an unknown entity on the world stage.  

MDS’s first major international opportunity arose when Royal Air Maroc, Morocco’s national airline, wanted to build a test facility in Casablanca. The firm faced some tough competition: primarily two larger, more well-known, and experienced players in the U.S. and Belgium, who had solutions ready to go. But the MDS team knew they could deliver. They just needed support to enhance their credibility. 

CCC’s support was they key to help level the playing field, and its government-backed sovereign guarantee of contract performance made MDS a safe choice for Royal Air Maroc despite its small size and relative lack of experience. 

“CCC basically secured that deal for us,” said Joe Hajjar Vice President, Global Business Development “Royal Air Maroc didn’t have to trust this tiny little firm. They could trust the Government of Canada.” 

Thanks to CCC’s contracting support and international relationships, MDS Aero Support was able to secure the $40 million contract to build their first large-scale turnkey engine testing facility.  

The company built a 3000 square meters facility with a post-overhaul engine test centre for turbojet, turbofan, turboprop, and turboshaft engines as well as auxiliary power units (APU). It has an eleven-bay preparation area where the engines can be dressed and transported to the cell via a monorail delivery system.  

The facility is still in operation today, 25 years later. In addition to servicing Royal Air Maroc’s own engines, the test facility is a major source of additional revenue and jobs for the national airline, as they do work for other customers in the region. 

“CCC basically secured that deal for us,”

Joe Hajjar Vice President, Global Business Development

A contracting approach tailor-made for complex projects

Today, MDS Aero Support builds testing facilities for aviation, power generation and marine customers across all three phases of engine testing: R&D, production and maintenance, repair and overhaul. The facilities it constructs do everything from basic engine performance tests to highly complex and challenging scenarios that simulate extreme conditions.

The firm has even built a test centre in northern Manitoba for Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney to subject their engines to extremes of cold that just can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Hajjar says the CCC contracting approach is ideal for this complex work: “What we sell is not a commodity. It’s a complex centre of excellence with a significant amount of technology and IP that requires a contracting structure that supports an iterative approach.”

The design process involves significant collaboration, coordination and multiple design reviews. For that reason, a standard RFP process, with requirements determined and set in stone from the beginning, is simply not effective.

CCC’s G2G contracting approach allows a foreign buyer to work directly with MDS Aero Support without going through a public tender process — providing space for the negotiations required to deliver a complex project in the national interest of a buying country.

Full engine test facilities. Source: MDS Aero Support.

Full engine test facilities. Source: MDS Aero Support.

Full engine test facilities. Source: MDS Aero Support.

Paving the way for international success

Since its first deal with Royal Air Maroc, MDS Aero Support has worked with CCC on another 12 projects with a total value of almost $165 million. This includes projects with the U.S. Department of Defence through CCC’s U.S DoD Prime Contractor Program.

Today, the Canadian firm is a global leader and the largest independently owned turbine engine testing facility builder in the world. It secured a contract with Rolls-Royce to build the biggest, most technologically advanced turbine engine testing facility in the world.

Located in Derby, United Kingdom, Testbed 80 is the world’s largest and smartest indoor aero engine testbed. With his facility, Rolls-Royce can collect data from more than 10,000 different parameters on an engine, using an intricate web of sensors that detect even the tiniest vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second. This data helps the company understand their engines and how to improve them.

CCC’s role in growth of MDS Aero

Hajjar credits CCC with helping MDS Aero Support grow and encourages other exporters to take advantage of this unique service available in Canada. CCC sets Canadian companies apart and offers significant benefits to all parties.

One of the biggest is helping relax otherwise prohibitive contract terms. Projects that require bonds of 5–15% and other securities often present tremendous financial risk for smaller exporters. CCC’s 100% government-backed contract performance guarantee de-risks the deal for all players.

MDS Aero Support’s proven track record means they no longer rely on CCC to get them in the door, but CCC continues to provide invaluable negotiation support. Even today, sitting down with large international companies that bring armies of lawyers to the table can feel a little like David negotiating with Goliath, but with CCC at their side, Hajjar says MDS Aero Support goes into negotiations feeling as big as their buyers.

“CCC put us on the international map,” says Hajjar. “Without them, we would not be where we are today.”

Play Video

Rolls-Royce Testbed 80. Source: Rolls-Royce (YouTube)

Full engine test facilities. Source: MDS Aero Support.

About CCC

The Canadian Commercial Corporation is a federal crown corporation and is only the Canadian agency that offers commercial advocacy, collaborative project development, and international contracting expertise to help Canadian businesses secure contracts with foreign governments at the national, state, and municipal level.

Our International Prime Contractor program is a fee-based program where we sign government to government (G2G) contracts with foreign government buyers for the sale of Canadian solutions. To learn more about CCC and how we can help you, contact us.

Last updated: August 2022

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