The French aerospace and defense industry on its Everest

The French aerospace and defense industry has achieved a turnover never reached so far (65.4 billion euros, 85% of which is exported). On the other hand, new orders continued to fall, to 58.2 billion euros.

In 2018, the French aerospace and defense industry climbed to the seventh heaven, but clouds are piling up (lower orders, recruitment difficulties). Consolidated within the GIFAS (Group of French aeronautical and space industries), this industry has yet achieved a turnover never reached so far (65.4 billion euros, 85% export). This is an increase of 1.2% compared to 2017 and nearly 30% compared to 2014. In contrast, order intake continued their decline, to 58.2 billion euros (against 68.2 billion in 2017), of which 62% is exported. A decline that began in 2015 (78.3 billion). That is a significant decline of more than 25%. As a result, the ratio of sales to new orders is negative in 2018. This is extremely rare for this industry.

“We are breaking all records: never before have so many commercial aircraft been produced in France, thanks to the performance of the aerospace supply chain,” said GIFAS President Eric Trappier, who is also CEO. of Dassault Aviation.

In particular, Airbus delivered 800 aircraft to airlines in 2018, a new record for deliveries for the European aircraft manufacturer. The other good news of the sector in the civil is the recovery is confirmed in business aviation, confirmed Eric Trappier. In particular, the second-hand market has recovered a lot thanks to the good economic health in the United States, he said. Finally, the turnover in the field of defense is almost stable, to 15 billion euros in 2018. However, it remains complicated in the field of helicopters, especially the segment “oil and gas”, which remains sluggish. This is also the case in the space sector, where French industry is undergoing a transformation as it faces a very aggressive American competition.

New decline in orders
According to GIFAS, orders remained at a high level in 2018. The President of GIFAS explained this decline with a lower level of orders in the civil sector than in previous years. “This situation comes after several years at a very high level and represents a pause in a context of continuous rate increases to meet the high expectations of the market given the growth of air traffic,” he said. A trend to follow with vigilance in the coming years.

This is not new, but the French aerospace industry continues to face difficulties in recruiting staff, particularly in SMEs in regional employment pools with the exception of Toulouse. But not that … Eric Trappier also mentioned the problems of recruiting engineers in large groups. “We have a shortage of talent,” confirmed the Chairman of GIFAS Aéro-PME Committee, Christophe Cador. A shortage partly caused by the fact that this sector hires a lot. The industry recruited 15,000 people last year. In the end, this represents a net balance of more than 4,000 people, of which 2,633 are in SMEs and medium-sized enterprises. At the end of 2018, the sector employed 195,000 people in France (+ 2%). A problem of rich …

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