A400M: An aircraft “made in Andalucía”

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Aeronáutica Andaluza nº13
Septiembre - Diciembre 2009
2 Septiembre 2009

The Andalusian aeronautical industry has played an important role in the development of the A400M Programme, a reflection of the work capacity and technology which companies in the sector currently possess in our region. It also opens up new opportunities for future participation in new projects with the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers.

The first flight of the A400M military airlifter has been very well received by the Andalusian aeronautical sector, one of the key participants in the programme, and is a tribute to the importance of international collaboration in major industrial projects in the field of aeronautics. The manufacture of the A400M is the result of cooperation between many different European countries, with its development and production involving centres and factories from all over the continent, including Hamburg (Germany), Getafe (Spain), Filton (united Kingdom), Ankara (Turkey), Saint Nazaire (France), Bremen (Germany), Cádiz and Seville (Spain). Nonetheless, the role of Spanish industries and Andalusian participation in what is one of the largest projects at an international level in recent years is particularly relevant.

As a consequence, our region’s aeronautical industry has acquired fundamental importance not only due to the workload it has assumed under the project, with more than half of the turnover subcontracted by Airbus Military, but also because for the first time in its aeronautical history a Final Assembly line (FAL) has been located in its territory. This has placed Andalusia on the world aeronautical map and highlights the work capacity and technology which Andalusian firms in the sector currently have at their disposal, positioning them at the cutting edge of innovation and engineering for major aeronautical projects.

Boost for the sector

The A400M has signified a definitive boost for firms in the Andalusian aeronautical sector and has placed the region in a strategic position, opening up new future possibilities for job assignments and creation of employment for Andalusian industry through new projects with the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers. “The A400M’s first flight is a milestone which is a source of pride in that we have contributed to its success, and also comprises recognition and just reward for the excellence of the efforts made as part of this ambitious aeronautical project assumed by our region. At the same time, it has acted as a showcase for Andalusian firms such as MDu in the military aeronautics arena, as well as pinpointing Andalusia as a leader in the field of innovation and development”, highlighted Ramón Sánchez Garduño, CEO of the IuD Group (MDU).

The delight following the definitive resumption of the programme and the first flight of the A400M is shared by all Andalusian businesses. “The success of the A400M’s maiden flight is a great satisfaction for everyone and is the culmination of years of uncertainty and also hopes which we expect will generate important job assignments for Andalusian industry in the years to come”, stated José Cañas, Professor of the university of Seville and one of the founders of TEAMS.

Meanwhile, Rafael Romero, director of the Aeronautics division of Ghenova, affirmed that “as is the case of the rest of the Andalusian auxiliary industry, the A400M has signified a major opportunity for our company. Despite the accumulated delays of the programme, which have slowed down the expansion of the Andalusian industrial network, there can be no doubt that the choice of Seville as the site of the FAL and subsequent delivery of the aircraft and the future pilot training centre will ensure a workload over the coming years which will contribute to strengthen existing industrial networks and the creation of new companies to complement the current portfolio of services.

At the same time, the A400M will keep Seville and Andalusia on the world aeronautical map on a permanent basis”. “Whichever way you look at it, the first flight of the A400M is a dream come true for all the Andalusian companies which, as is the case of Galvatec, have made a strong commitment to this highly competitive and complicated sector. The location of an Airbus FAL in Seville also acts as an international showcase for all the firms in the auxiliary industry, and is encouraging major aeronautical manufacturers to discover and make use of our capacities.

The A400M is currently very good news for the entire Andalusian aeronautical sector, but over time it may in hindsight become the defining moment bringing about the radical change needed to guarantee the future of our industry. This will not be possible without the involvement of various businesses, entities and workers, but at least we have this incredible opportunity before us which we cannot nor should not allow to escape. And opportunities like this do not come by every day”, assured Francisco de la Vega, director of Galvatec.

Andalusian participation

As is evident from the work carried out by Andalusian firms in the aeronautical sector, our region has played a key role in the development of the A400M programme. The horizontal tail plane for the aircraft is manufactured here in Andalusia in the EADS-CASA plant at Tablada, Seville. This component is wholly assembled in Spain and is manufactured using 90% carbon fiber and 10% light metals, mainly aluminium and titanium.

The factory at Tablada is also responsible for manufacturing part of the components using high-speed machining technology, although the majority of the parts of the HTP come from different companies and places, including Andalusian firms such as Sacesa (carbon fiber parts of the rudder), Easy Industrial Solutions (also supplying fiber), Airgrup (ducting), EADS-CASA San Pablo (wiring harnesses), and Meupe Consur and Alestis (SK10). Assembly and installation of the systems is carried out in the factory at Tablada. In addition, the aircraft’s flap fairings are made wholly from carbon fiber using different production technology, including fiber placement, a cutting-edge process for the manufacture of composite materials.

The EADS-CASA factory in the Bay of Cádiz which is responsible for its manufacture is a leader in this field. These fairings incorporate other metallic elements manufactured by the factories of EADS-CASA and different Andalusian subcontractors such as Galvatec. Andalusia also participates in the cowlings for the A400M. More specifically, the Tablada factory is responsible for making complex machined parts out of titanium, while the factory in the Bay of Cádiz produces sheet metal. The manufacture of these cowlings also involves the collaboration of Alestis, which produces sandwich panels of carbon fiber, and the firms Sevilla Control and Airgrup in relation to machined and welded parts. Other companies also participate in the A400M programme as subcontractors, such as ELIMCO (automatic testing systems and technical and logistics support services for the FAL), Navair (study and design of the production tooling for the FAL and manufacture of the anti-missile systems of the A400M), Aertec (industrial and logistics organisation for the FAL, external logistics centre and principal supplier of Zone type Aircraft Interface Modules), MDu (airworthiness systems, automatic testing systems and ground tests), Ghenova (design of the cargo bay floor and certification of the wings), CESA (landing gear and cargo ramp and door systems), Inespasa (design, manufacture and assembly of the static wing test unit), TADA (manufacture, surface treatment and assembly of subassemblies) and TEAMS (systems for testing meshing of wiring harnesses).

The FAL of the A400M

The A400M has resulted in Andalusia being the site of a final assembly line (FAL) for the first time ever of a programme by one of the aeronautical industry’s leading manufacturers, the European consortium EADS through its affiliate Airbus Military.

The FAL for the A400M is located next to the EADS Plant at San Pablo in Seville and has a total surface area of 145,000 square metres on a plot measuring 600,000 square metres. It has involved an investment of over 600 million euros. This plant has a main hangar for the assembly of the aircraft measuring 30,000 square metres, and five other complementary hangars. It can house up to 10 aircraft under construction. The installation of this first FAL in Andalusia has made the region the third most important aeronautical cluster in Europe, only behind Toulouse (France) and Hamburg (Germany).

A factory of this nature brings with it important job creation opportunities, as well as the establishment in the territory of major aeronautical services and systems companies to support the final assembly line, which also tend to subcontract services to local auxiliary companies. The FAL has also brought with it another major aeronautical project:

The A400M Pilot Training Centre. This centre, which will be managed by EADS, started out as a means of providing basic training regarding the new aircraft for future pilots of the military airlifter, although the project has ended up extending its role to act as a training centre for pilots and crew of the aircraft. Although it is still being developed (it is expected to start functioning over the course of 2010) this centre will be the most advanced in Europe in its category, equipped with the latest flight simulation technology and an R+D area which will work on the development of new training tools to ensure it keeps up with developments in the field. In addition to all of the above, Andalusian firms in the aeronautical sector are confident that the success of the first flight of the A400M will provide the definitive impulse for the extension of the Andalusian Aerospace Technology Park, Aeropolis, strategically located next to the FAL, the Airbus Military factory and Seville’s San Pablo Airport.

Aeropolis currently has a total surface area of 580,000 square metres, although plans have been made to double this area to accommodate new companies in the sector and others linked with the Andalusian auxiliary industry.

 

 MAIN ANDALUSIAN FIRMS PARTICIPATING IN THE A400M PROGRAMME

Aeroestructuras Sevilla
Aertec
Airgrup
Alestis (SK10)
AyG Sevilla
CESA
Consur
EADS-CASA
Easy Industrial Solutions
EIIF
ELIMCO
Galvatec
Ghenova
Industria Siderometalúrgica Giennense
Inespasa
MDU
Mecaprec
MEUPE
MP
Navair
Prescal
Sacesa
Sevilla Control
STSA
TADA
TEAMS
Veiasa