This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The Avro CF-105 Arrow was the first and, so far, the only Canadian-designed supersonic aircraft.
The Avro CF-105 Arrow was Canada’s first and, so far, only Canadian-designed supersonic aircraft. Developed during the Cold War in the 1950s, the Arrow was designed to intercept Soviet bombers in Canada’s Arctic airspace as they attacked North America. Avro Canada developed the massive interceptor and a wholly-new jet engine, the Iroquois. The Arrow first flew on March 25, 1958, and was among the most advanced jet aircraft of its time — but it never entered service because the Canadian government cancelled the Arrow project in 1959. A variety of factors forced this decision, from changing weapons technology to spiralling costs. The Arrow’s cancellation had an immense impact on Canada’s aviation industry: Avro Canada laid off almost its entire staff of 14,000 employees and many of its engineers left Canada to work for American aviation companies and NASA. Under government orders, Avro Canada destroyed the five completed Arrows and several others then under construction.
All that remains of the Arrow are one nose, two wingtips, and a few engines, as well as many photos, plans, and documents.