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European aerospace industry: Times of change and opportunity

Picture of Antonio Gómez-Guillamón

Antonio Gómez-Guillamón

AERTEC / CEO & Founder


The firms that make up the supply chain have organised themselves in a series of clusters distributed in and around the main European aerospace hubs. Whether it be Seville, Bristol, Toulouse or Hamburg, all the relevant companies and government organisations and universities are organised so as to attract opportunities to their respective regions and also to allow their businesses to expand. Apart from the usual healthy competition, there is above all a strong sense of team spirit, and each member knows that working together as a regional cluster will improve the position on the worldwide stage for everyone.

When it operates as a single region Europe has everything it needs to become leader.

On the other hand, during the last decade we have experienced the most prolific period in a number of years with the development of a number of important programmes that have begun to overlap each other over time. The A380, A400M and A350, to name only a few of AIRBUS’ most important, have brought an influx of opportunities for the auxiliary firms. A repeat of this confluence would be extremely unlikely however, and it would offer opportunities to some auxiliary firms and bring big problems for others. Now we must concentrate on the efficiency of the production processes while also increasing production cycles. Without going into detail by activity, the general workload over the next few years will be immense and without doubt many firms that are more focused on the development phases will experience turbulent times.

This time of change in activity will be accompanied by an important restructuring within AIRBUS Group, the leading firm in the European sector. The reorganisation into three main divisions, the simplification of the supply chains and the loss of influence in countries favoured by the general organisation of AIRBUS are a source of worry for a number of firms, while also a great opportunity for many others.

Finally, we will see how new segments that promise a great deal will appear in the market. Unmanned aircraft or the space sector will develop, and they will do so with a big impact. A new horizon will emerge, less controlled by state budgets and more oriented towards commercial operation. It will be a field day for the best entrepreneurs, the most technologically advanced and those that have the easiest access to financing.

Therefore we have a strong regional clusters, times of change regarding the majority of activities, transformation in the leading European firm and the appearance of new segments with enormous scope for growth. Perhaps some might feel uncomfortable with such sweeping changes and others might not know how to adapt. For many however this will represent renewed enthusiasm and an excellent opportunity to set themselves apart from the rest, to grow and to show what they are really worth.

One thing that has been clearly demonstrated is that when it operates as a single region Europe has everything it needs to become leader. AIRBUS, one of the few authentic cases of a pan-European industrial firm, coupled with its supply chain organised around regional centres of excellence, should serve as good example for increased European integration.



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