Aerospace, heavy weight of the French industry

Mar 3, 2020 | Industry & Cleantech

Any company looking to expand its activities in the aerospace sector should consider entering the French aerospace industry. With a large focus on exportations, aerospace companies employ many highly skilled professionals and take advantage of the cluster organization. To maintain its leading position, the ecosystem is investing in education, R&D and high-tech projects.   


One of the leading industries of France’s economy  

According to 2018 by the French aerospace association, the order book of the French aerospace sector is about 68,3 billion euros which makes it one of the key components of the country’s economy. Exporting is the major driver for this, as 76% of orders originate from foreign companies. The recent good health of the aerospace sector is only confirming France’s place as one of the leading countries worldwide in this domain.  

Did you know that France and Sweden have a great relationship in the aerospace sector? Indeed, SAS company ordered 50 Airbus A320 in 2018, to be delivered between 2020 and 2023. Airbus is the first partner of the Swedish aerospace sector, which is estimated to represent 2,3 billion euros.

The International Paris Air Show, held every year at the Bourget airport near Paris, is the biggest show of its kind, with 150 billion euros of orders in 2018 and more than 300,000 attendees. It allows France to entice foreign investors to favor the country, as in 2018 more than 1,900 jobs were added through aerospace projects from foreign companies. They entered a sector employing 190,000 professionals as of 2018, with a large part of highly qualified positions, with 42% of engineers and managers and 22% of senior technicians.  

The aerospace ecosystem is coordinated through three clusters: The Aerospace Valley in Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the Astech in Paris and the SAFE Cluster in Provence. Cluster organization allows for synergies development and initiatives to grow, improving the ecosystem performance. A compelling example of the French ecosystem is the Toulouse region, home of Airbus, which boasts 850 companies and 68,000 jobs in the aerospace sector.  

Read more: Ten billion humans to move – by La French Fab

Betting on the future 

To maintain their position in the aerospace sector, public and private actors are investing in the needed domains:  

  • In 2016, 3,5 billion euros were spent in R&D expenditures in the aerospace sector. It is the second-highest total for an industry sector in France, just behind the automotive industry.  
  • Multiple top-level engineering schools exist in France, often close to industry clusters to allow hand-on training. Some examples for that are the ISAE-AERO and the Notional School of Civil Aviation in Toulouse, or the National School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in Poitiers.  
  • Growth in industrial activities is driven today by the digitalization of processes, through the transition to the Industry 4.0. Two examples of that are the 70 million euros investment of Stelia Aerospace (manufacturer of fuselages and aircraft spikes) to fluidify its facility in Hauts de France and the Smart Factory built by Latécoère, a historic aerospace subcontractor founded in 1917, in Toulouse, to produce aircraft doors.   
  • A significant number of high-tech projects are being developed within French companies, that are likely to change the aerospace landscapes for the upcoming decades. Examples range from the nEUROn European military drone to the pilotless flying taxi concept developed by Airbus, as well as the ANGELS nano-satellites conceived by the CNES and Nexeya.  

Read more: French aerospace excellence – Key info in 10 points

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Communications Manager
Communication Manager