On 13 April 2017, the biggest players in the aviation and space sector came together for a press conference to present the market report for 2016. The event was organised by GIFAS (Groupement des Industries Françaises Aéronautiques et Spatiales), and directors of both large companies and smaller associations posted satisfying results for 2016. The past year has been particularly fruitful in terms of revenue, orders and hiring figures. The panel also presented its projections for horizon 2020.
Sound figures for turnover, orders and new hires
2016 was a decidedly good year, with an increase in turnover of 4.1%. The total of €60.4bn is split across two markets: civil activity, which weighs in at €47.3bn (78% of the total), and military activity, totalling €13.1bn. The market share of these two sectors has increased by 4.8% and 1.4% respectively, an impressive development that can be explained by the high level of exports, which gained 5.9% in additional market share and now account for €41.7bn. Thanks to a centre of excellence, the competitiveness of the equipment and the skills of workers, the French sector is in good health, with yet another record year.
As far as orders are concerned, 2016 was a fertile year, with contracts worth a total of €73.1bn concluded. These orders are indicative of a supply chain that is high-quality, efficient and highly responsive. Indeed, despite order numbers proving a challenge for supply chain businesses, they more than rose to the challenge, with the support of a solid, well-organised industry that values links between parts manufacturers and SMBs. Thanks to this productivity, the sector has become the first favourable balance in the balance of trade. The promising market of civil aviation is opening up new possibilities, as the president of GIFAS notes that “France has never produced as many planes in the civil domain”.
Human resources have also developed well. No fewer than 10,000 new hires – 2,000 of which represented new job creation – were needed to fulfil orders and contracts. And the level remains high in 2017, as 8,000 new jobs are expected. The encouraging projections are the result of two factors: one order in this area represents 5 years of work, and the industry anticipates steady growth to Horizon 2020.
Performance, environment, innovation: the issues of tomorrow for the aviation industry
The future looks bright, but industry leaders are no less mindful of the difficulties that syndicates often encounter.
In 2014, GIFAS launched “Industrial Performance”, a large-scale programme focused on the competitiveness of SMBs. For Phase 1, co-investment from State and industry enabled 97% of SMBs to improve their performance. Phase 2 is now live, and includes 13 regions in order to “extend French excellence”, according to Marwan Lahoud, president of GIFAS.
The environment is also a significant issue, with the signing of the first global agreement on offsetting emissions, and the creation of a sustainable aeronautical biofuels sector.
Internally, objectives are focused on performance and leadership. With “La Fabrique de l’Avenir” (Manufacturing of the Future), the industry is working on two lines of development: adapting processes, and organising both production and innovation. To improve processes, the sector wishes to create new collaborative working methods, while funds are also being raised to improve production tools and develop new technologies.
Innovation is at work throughout the sector, but the space industry will be the first to benefit since the stakes are high as it seeks to maintain its position as European market leader. The aims are to reduce pollution, adapt to developments in logistics and stay ahead of the digitisation of the sector. With this in mind, the syndicate is co-president of the COSPACE programme, and it won and signed 13 new contracts in 2016.
While the aviation and space industry is a sector of excellence, and one that creates new jobs, we should not forget that construction happens at a European level. In a post-Brexit world, processes are leading towards a changing landscape, and it will be necessary to take action as a result.