Bombardier Aerospace, a division of Bombardier Inc. (Montreal), employs 28,000 people and is the third largest civil airplane manufacturer in the world. The company builds both business jets and regional jets, introducing 14 new successful aircraft programs in the past 14 years.

The company's Saint-Laurent facility, in Quebec, manufactures components for a number of planes including the Bombardier CRJ series, Challenger series and Global series of aircraft. The facility also produces structural components for other aircraft builders, such as Boeing (Chicago) and Aerospatiale, a division of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (Paris).

To improve both accuracy and production times, the Saint-Laurent facility uses about a dozen LTD 500 laser trackers from Leica Geosystems (Norcross, GA) to build, install and inspect the various jigs in its manufacturing operations. Each LTD 500 is a portable, industrial coordinate measuring machine that incorporates a high-speed tracking 3D laser interferometer and precision angular encoders to deliver a measuring rate of up to 1,000 points per second, and accuracy up to 25 microns. Typically used in harsh industrial environments, LTD 500 laser trackers are known for their durability, a factor that ensures the delivery of consistent and repeatable measurement results.

Bombardier Aerospace has been using the LTD 500 for a little over 4 years. Currently, the company owns 13 trackers, which it uses for testing and measurement in everything from assembly to reverse engineering and bench testing. The company has trained approximately 125 operators in the trackers' use.

"The Leica laser trackers are used mostly in fabrication and inspection... roughly 75 percent usage in fabrication, the rest of the time for inspection and reverse engineering applications," says Eric Roy, laser tracker coordinator for one of the factory's tooling departments. "Jig fabrication is much faster now. We gained significant efficiencies over our old inspection methodologies, and at the same time, achieved remarkable reductions of time and manpower to get the job done.... Repeatability within our processes is better, and the precision is exponentially higher."

To coordinate its many trackers, Bombardier uses Axyz software, also from Leica, which allows it to collect a wealth of coordinate data in a central, secure database, where it can be accessed using customizable report generation tools.

Axyz software also allows operators and engineers to use the trackers in conjunction with CAD-CAM software programs, such as CATIA and Mastercam. The trackers are controlled using industry-standard data formats like Microsoft Excel, Word, Access and Visual Basic, all of which can be exported from Axyz.

Using the system's absolute distance meter, the LTD 500 can be programmed to perform multiple point-and-shoot measurements and search out assigned coordinates, allowing a single operator to perform a series of measurements. The Axyz software can also be programmed to prompt an operator in a step-by-step mode. According to Roy, the latter feature not only helps reduce operator error, it can also be used for training.

For more laser-tracking measuring technology, call 800-367-9453, visit or eInquiry 4.