Leonardo: A global heavyweight working to close the digital divide in Canada

Feb 15, 2022

440 words | 2 minutes

Leonardo is one of the largest aerospace, defence and security companies in the world, and a trusted long-term partner of choice for governments, institutions, and business customers.   

Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh talked to Francesco Norante, President of Leonardo Canada, about the company’s long history in Canada, and what is on the horizon for our podcast, Invested in Our New Reality. 

Leonardo first launched operations in Canada more than 50 years ago and officially formed Leonardo Canada in 2018 with Norante as President and Chairman of the Board. Over the years, the company has earned a place of distinction in the aerospace, defence and security industries and offers a staggering range of services and products. 

Since 2018, when we created Leonardo Canada, the focus of the company has been in how we can expand our presence in Canada,” says Norante. 

The company works with many partners and, along with Thales Canada and Telesat, is contributing to the new Lightspeed Constellation — a collection of satellites that will improve internet speeds, regardless of location, and help close the digital divide.  

Leonardo is committed to innovation and is constantly working on developing new technologies and products and improving their existing work. “We reinvest 12% of our revenues into research and development,” says Norante. “[That’s] about 1.8 billion to 2 billion euros a year invested in R&D, which is pretty significant.”  

Transport Canada recently announced that its National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) will begin to use Leonardo’s Osprey radar to bolster its surveillance capabilities. Among other uses, the radar’s primary purpose is to protect the maritime environment and endangered marine life by identifying oil spills and rogue polluters, in all conditions.  

Leonardo Canada’s work in aeronautics is extensive and key to their business, and to the industry at large. “We cover the entire basically spectrum of the aeronautics,” Norante explains. “In Canada, we have around 50 platform flights across the country between civilian helicopters, public and military.”  

In a way, the company even helps manufacture pilots. Babcock Canada was recently downselected for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s comprehensive training program to help recruit and train future pilots. 

“This is the new training program for the next generation of military pilots,” he explains. “It’s going to basically start from level zero, so from the students that will be recruited, and then bring [them through] various phases of training – from jet pilots to Top Guns, by the end.”

 As President of Leonardo Canada, Norante is thrilled by this project.  

 “I would be super happy to see this program become successful because it will be the legacy we leave it to the next generation of Canadians,” he explains, adding, “[It] will be probably the best thing I’ve done in my life.” 

To learn more, visit WhyOttawa.ca. Be sure to tune in to the rest of Season 7 of Invested in Our New Reality, a podcast hosted by Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh and produced by Invest Ottawa.  

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