“In recent years, our companies have developed competencies which have allowed them to conquer competitive technological niches in the international market.”
Ricardo Martí Fluxá, President of TEDAE (the Spanish Association of Technology Companies in Defence, Security, Aeronautics and Space)
The Spanish aeronautical, defence and space industry is experiencing a major crisis due to Covid-19. As one of the main economic pillars of our country, what recovery measures is TEDAE asking for?
Our defence, security, aeronautical and space industries have been deeply impacted by COVID-19, but with subtle differences in each one of these industrial sectors. We must defend a national industrial network that is strategic and which we can promote and protect so that Spain has its own technological and manufacturing capabilities, as well as companies with experience in competitive global markets. Effective, creative support measures – with the Government and working with different administrations – are necessary to recover the encouraging outlook for the future growth of our industries, which COVID-19 has ruined.
Aeronautical, defence, security and space companies always need government support because they work with such long time spans for developing technology and recovering investment, and therefore need to count on stable plans and financial frameworks. If public-private collaboration is always necessary, today it is essential.
Andalusia has been working on the Strategic Aeronautics Plan for months, but there is a historic need for a National Strategic Plan. Do you believe this will happen in the medium term?
I believe it’s necessary to stress that today, more than ever, it is essential to continue working with the Administration, following the public-private collaboration model, to develop an aeronautical technology plan which, with the necessary funding, will make it possible for us to consolidate an activity that is fundamental for our economy, and develop technology for the aviation of the future. This is what will allow us to maintain the volume of activity and high-quality jobs and added value. And we trust that, working together, we will be able to give our aeronautical sector another big boost just like the PTA I and PTA II technological plans did in the 1990’s. The Government and regional administrations have reiterated the strategic nature of the aeronautical sector for Spain’s economy; it represents an industrial network that created 45,000 direct jobs (around 100,000 indirect), contributed 6% to Spain’s GNP and had a turnover of 10.5 billion euros in 2019 (latest statistics available).
This is also the time to adopt support measures for the supply chain to help them overcome cash flow difficulties, guarantee companies’ survival and maintain the level of technology we enjoy today – which has been so hard to achieve – to boost the development of new technologies for the aviation of the future.
The launch of new aeronautical programmes will serve to preserve technological and industrial capabilities, reinforcing the sector and its auxiliary industries, minimising the impact that COVID-19 is having on employment.
TEDAE is committed to developing an Aeronautical Technology Plan based on public-private collaboration. What would the key points of this plan be?
The Sectorial Agenda of the Aeronautical Industry which TEDAE prepared together with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, and presented in December 2018 listed the pillars that needed to be reinforced in order to maintain Spanish industry’s high technological level in the international sphere: training, RDI (Research, Development and Innovation), the supply chain, companies’ environmental actions and competitivity.
Therefore, the key points to consider are the support that has been determined for RDI, new aeronautical programmes, participation of technology organisms and centres, a programme for developing priority technologies and optimisation of industrial processes, industry 4.0, adaptation of training programmes to the standards of excellence that companies require, and also support to increase the response to growing environmental commitments and the allocation of necessary funds.
TEDAE sectors make up 7.3% of national industrial GNP. What role will they play in the recovery of the industry?
If the health crisis has made one thing clear, it is the enormous capacity for transformation of our companies and the technology they develop. Spanish society has seen how quickly they have adapted their technologies and been able to provide products and services that were totally unfamiliar to them before.
I believe the strategic nature of these industries has also become clear, as well as their willingness to serve and support the progress of Spain, society, as well as our Armed Forces and State Security Forces.
The strength of TEDAE’s 81 defence, security, aeronautical and space companies lies in our technologies, in our competitive products, our patents and the talent of our professionals. In recent years, our companies have developed competencies which have allowed them to conquer competitive technological niches in the international market. This has required decades of investment in RDI. This industrial network is therefore an essential factor for reactivating our economy.
It is essential to keep working with an attitude of commitment so that our companies participate in new aeronautical programmes and the modernisation of the Armed Forces. And they need to gain prominence in the new European Union, leading Spain’s industrial presence in the main European programmes such as Horizon Europe or the European Defence Fund and consolidating our presence in the European Space Agency.
A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Defence, together with TEDAE and AESMIDE (Association of Companies that Contract with Public Administrations in Spain and Abroad), established the FEINDEF (International Defence and Security Exhibition) Foundation, which will be responsible for organising the biannual fair by the same name. What can you tell us about this new institution and the next edition of FEINDEF?
The Ministry of Defence and the industrial associations, TEDAE and AESMIDE, created the FEINDEF Foundation to reinforce the Spanish Defence and Security Industry’s image, raise awareness of the importance of and commitment to R&D in this industry, promote scientific activities and techniques and favour their internationalisation and integration, especially in Europe. And, one more objective is to keep the fair going after the first FEINDEF international defence and security exhibit was held in May 2019.
I am convinced that with the invaluable support of the Ministry of Defence, the next edition will be as successful as the first. There is no doubt that keeping FEINDEF going will contribute to Spanish companies establishing their presence in international consortiums and projects and demonstrating their desire to contribute to our continent’s Common Defence Policy, while consolidating ties with countries that we have been collaborating with for a long time.