The andalusian industry sets a course to meet the future strategic challenges of the aeronautical sector
Companies, authorities and other bodies associated with the Andalusian aerospace industry have embarked upon a program of specific actions with the aim of establishing a highly competitive sector which will act as a driving force behind the region’s economic development. Under this ambitious plan, Andalusia is looking to adapt to the trends of the international market in order to better position itself to exploit the business opportunities of the coming years, which will largely define the evolution of the world industry
Andalusia is currently considered to be one of the most rapidly expanding European aeronautical regions over the last decade at an international level, with excellent results in terms of economic growth, employment, productivity and technological development in comparison to other geographic zones with a similar scope in this field. However, in a from different nations and continents, and precisely due to its high technological content and its constant evolution, expansion alone is insufficient to ensure the future of Andalusia’s industry. It is also essential to continuously adapt to market and sector needs in order to compete on a level footing and meet the new challenges posed by the world industry.
That is why the Andalusian government, companies, institutions and other social and economic bodies have developed a strategic action plan with the aim of consolidating the Andalusian aerospace industry as a fully competitive sector through knowledge and innovation and convert it into a stimulus for the region’s economic development, fostering increased capabilities and a more extensive range of activities and products to favor the development of new aeronautical initiatives in the future.
Under this ambitious plan, Andalusia is looking to adapt to the trends of the international market in order to better position itself to exploit the business opportunities of the coming years, which will largely define the evolution of the world industry. Promoted by the Andalusian Regional Government under the Andalusian Industrial Development Plan (PADI) 2008-2013, the Aerospace Sector Action Program is based on an analysis and study of the current situation of the Andalusian industry and its main potential values, the international panorama and the current trends of the aeronautical market, along with the challenges and factors requiring development to consolidate its position and its due recognition as a leading region of excellence for aeronautical activities. This analysis has identified key aspects such as the increasing relevance of the overseas market for the Andalusian sector, with growth of more than 800% since 2001; the sustained increase in productivity for both major manufacturers and auxiliary companies (resulting in greater competitiveness and increased exports of products and services); and greater diversification of customer portfolios (to include Embraer, Bombardier, Boeing, Dassault and Eurocopter, etc) in spite of the still prevailing dependence upon European manufacturers (Airbus Military and Airbus).
Other strong points identified include the presence of the FAL for the A400M to increase activities in the field of final assembly of military aircraft; the industry’s leadership of development programs for new products and services deriving from major manufacturers established in Andalusia; the presence of Tier One suppliers such as Alestis, Aernnova and Aciturri; the increase in formation of new company groups and the ratification of Andalusia’s status as the second most important aeronautical hub in Spain. In addition, not only does the industry have a value chain dominated by major Tier One suppliers, it also has an extensive network of auxiliary companies based mainly in the Seville-Cádiz zone, which is the driving force behind the Andalusian sector.
Adapting to a new scenario
After the growth of recent years, the Andalusian aeronautical sector is now entering a key period for its consolidation and expansion towards new horizons, during which the dominant international trends will determine the rules of the game in the medium and long term. The civil market is characterized by a process of relocation of aeronautical activity in zones with reduced added value due to the influence of the dollar and emerging markets such as China. The military market, on the other hand, is more stable and offers interesting future perspectives for new technological applications, although it is limited by the budgets of the respective Defense departments. Business concentration is another of the predominant trends in the sector in recent years. More than 800 acquisitions and mergers have taken place since 2007 in response to the demands of major manufacturers, which require companies capable of supplying complete work packages and assuming the associated financial risks. In Andalusia, various consortiums and company groups have been established with greater economic muscle such as Elimco, Sevilla Control, UMI and Airgrup, apart from the Tier One suppliers previously mentioned, Alestis, Aciturri and Aernnova.
Another equally important trend is the nature of the relationship being established between subcontractor companies and aeronautical manufacturers under the ‘Go Global, Go Low Cost and Go Dollar’ model. This emphasizes greater global technical and technological capability with customers and partners who can work all over the world, offering competitive prices for industrial operations with less added value and taking the dollar as the currency for the signing of commercial deals. Finally, to ensure that the Andalusian aeronautical industry is well positioned in this new international scenario it must maintain a high degree of innovation and competitiveness through the consolidation of its existing capabilities and a commitment to new processes and activities with added value in fields with greater potential for the future of the aeronautical industry. These include avionics and on-board systems; robotics and automation; simulation and training; unmanned aircraft systems (UAVs); and the development of new materials, components and aerospace systems. In this context, the challenges faced by the Andalusian sector are to increase its capabilities in terms of operations, financing, engineering, technology and knowledge through business collaboration processes; to increase the competitiveness of companies in fields with greater added value; to increase the industry's presence in emerging international markets (Russia, China, India, Brazil) and the established European and American market; and to develop new market niches through activities with a limited presence in Andalusia (maintenance and modernization of aircraft, general aviation, business jets, helicopters, space, engines, etc).
The main goals of the plan include fostering the R&D in the aeronautical industry, placing Andalusia as a world reference axis in military transport aviation, taking a position in emerging markets and diversifying its business portfolio with other international firms
Objectives and strategic actions
The Aerospace Action Program, which covers the period from 2010 to 2013, includes a series of specific objectives which are deemed fundamental in order to achieve a highly competitive industry which is sustainable over time and make it one of the main driving forces globalized world, with a pioneering role by the aeronautical industry in the development of major projects with multiple partners behind the local economy and employment in the region. These objectives include the region’s establishment as a leader for military airlifters and special mission aircraft; to improve the competitiveness of aerostructure manufacture activities, especially in the field of composites; to position Andalusia in emerging markets; to increase sales with traditional major manufacturers and European Tier One companies and facilitate the establishment of other manufacturers; and to increase the role of the Andalusian aerospace sector at a national level and achieve greater institutional representation in national and international decision-making bodies.
The plan also seeks to promote the establishment of the FAL of the A400M as a center for design engineering, systems development, testing, after-sales services, training and aircraft maintenance for military airlifters; to improve the levels of business cooperation between Alestis and the auxiliary industry; to promote the establishment of an R&D Center to revitalize technological priorities; to foster participation in national and international R&D projects; to increase R&D investment in the auxiliary industry; to improve basic technologies employed in the sector; and finally to incorporate quality management support services in the range of products offered by the Andalusian industry. Other objectives contemplated in the road map include promotion of alliances with universities, Public Research Organizations (OPIs) and national and international institutions; strengthening of management, operation and economic solvency in the auxiliary sector; improvement and maintenance of Andalusia’s leadership in the field of professional training for the sector; and the promotion of measures to ensure the industry's environmental sustainability. All of these objectives are developed through a series of projects, activities and actions, some of which have already been started up by the Andalusian aeronautical industry.
These include the creation of innovation and R&D infrastructures (the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development, the Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (CATEC) and the Aerospace Engineering Center and Aeronautic Suppliers Village at the Aerospace Technological Park of Andalusia, Aeropolis, with the latter facilities currently under construction) and the Pilot Training and Flight Simulator Center (located on the site of the Airbus Military Plant at San Pablo, Seville, for military airlifters such as the A400M).
Other outstanding initiatives which are already a reality include the establishment of new facilities for flight tests and experiments with unmanned aircraft systems (such as the national Institute of Aerospace Technology in Huelva and the ATLAS Center in Jaén which will be operative next year) and the recent approval by EADS for the establishment in Andalusia of its UAV Center of Excellence.
Further important measures in this series of actions include the creation by CATEC of the SMN, a unit for screening, mentoring and nurturing of possible spin-off groups and technological companies in the incubation phase; specification of the role of Andalusian companies in European projects and innovation areas (SESAR, CLEAN SKY, COIN, CENIT, etc.); improvements to Internet connection infrastructures for the technological parks in Seville (Aeropolis) and Cádiz (Tecnobahía); and use of ICT tools to foster collaboration between companies in the sector through management networks.
The program also contemplates actions to foster business concentration processes and diversification of products in the auxiliary industry towards other areas with greater added value; adaptation of available financial instruments to the needs of the aeronautical sector; establishment of reserved industrial plots to meet the future needs of the Andalusian aerospace industry; development of promotional activities and trade missions for auxiliary companies; increased implementation of renewable energies and fostering of energy efficiency in the sector and technological parks; and improvements to environmental management practices. Improvements to the qualifications of management and technical staff, establishment of a new official aeronautical vocational training course and promotion of vocational training in the sector constitute further specific actions included in this ambitious plan, which will set the Andalusian industry on the right course to meet the new strategic challenges of the future in the aeronautical industry.
The CATEC or the Pilot Training and flight Simulation Center for Airbus Military are some of the projects of the Andalusian Aerospace Industry Action Program that have already been started-up