Filipino employees at Bombardier with Canadian Member of Parliament Michael Levitt. Photo courtesy of Bombardier

PAL’s Q400 – Made by Filipinos
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2017 - 4:00pm

TORONTO – The next time you fly on a Bombardier aircraft, be proud because Filipino hands have helped put it together – from the tail to the toilet seat.

For months, Filipino mechanics and engineers helped put together the different airplane components and parts, imported from all over the world. It’s like assembling a life-sized Tamiya but much more meticulously, sophisticated and perfectly done with the help of computers.

The newly acquired Philippine Airlines’ next generation Q400, the world’s first dual class, 86-seater turboprop is no exception.

Bombardier, the Montreal-based maker of planes and trains, employs roughly 200 Filipino mechanics and engineers at its Toronto facility alone, the site for the final assembly and interior completion of the Q400 and the global family of business jets.

One of the Filipino workers is Tarlac-born Paul Santiago, a sheet metal mechanic.

He said that upon learning last year that the next plane they would be working on is PAL’s new Q400, he and his fellow Filipino employees at Bombardier all got excited at the thought that they would be doing something that would benefit their “kababayans” back home.

“We’re very proud. We monitored the whole process closely,” Santiago told The Star.

Casimiro Javier, a certified public accountant back in the Philippines, is an aircraft mechanic who is the lead hand in the structural group.

“I’m here in the tail area. We connect that to the body. Everything is done through the computer so it is exact,” Javier said.

Javier is proud of his work, noting that when there was a Bombardier aircraft that crashed in New York due to pilot error, the tail was left intact.

Chito dela Cruz, who has been with Bombardier for 37 years, meanwhile, is a bench and structural assembler.

One of his assignments is to put the structure for the washrooms and to make sure they are properly connected to the entire system.

“I am in charge of the shit house,” he said in jest.

Turning serious, Cruz said he makes sure everything is perfect.

Another employee said the pay in Bombardier is good and even better if they put in additional hours.

Although he declined to reveal the amount, the employee said it’s something they wouldn’t be able to earn in Manila.

Many of the Filipinos employed at Bombardier joined the recent historic delivery ceremony for PAL’s Q400 held here.

PAL president and COO Jaime Bautista said one of the factors behind the company’s decision to acquire the aircraft from Bombardier, and not from another manufacturer, is the Filipino workforce.

“When we were deliberating, one of the criteria we considered is that we will be supporting the Filipino community in Canada because we know that 20 percent of the workers in this factory are Filipinos,” Bautista said in his speech during the ceremony when he formally accepted the Q400 on behalf of PAL chairman Lucio Tan.

“Thank you very much for supporting the country’s flag carrier,” he said, addressing the Filipino workers present during the event.

A Member of Parliament of Canada likewise recognized the work of the Filipino employees in Bombardier.

“How proud I am to be here where 20 percent of the workers are Filipinos. It is a testament to the strong values that the Filipino community puts into building this aircraft,” said Michael Levitt of York Centre.

Bombardier commercial aircraft vice president Ross Mitchell said the company is very happy with its Filipino workforce.

“They are good workers. We like them,” Mitchell said.

There are also workers from India, China, Thailand and Laos, he added.

With Filipino workers among those who helped build the Q400, PAL’s safety advertisement spiel on its flights couldn’t be more accurate – made by Filipinos, for the Filipino.

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