German Aerospace Sector Grows Overall, But Defense Shrinks
By Jens Flottau
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
“We are faced with a slow death of competencies that we have built up over decades,” Schrick says. He points out that it took the German defense industry around 30 years to develop the full range of capabilities needed, based on an initial phase of license production. “But it is now that the future path is decided,” he believes. “We need a military aviation strategy. Without one, even future technology upgrades for existing programs could be endangered if capabilities are disappearing.”
In 2011, 25% of the aerospace industry's revenues came from military sales, but for the first time defense-related revenues declined in absolute terms.
Though the media focus is on the success in the commercial and problems in the defense fields, the space sector has seen less drama. That segment recorded 3.7% revenue growth in 2011. Of the industry's total revenues in Germany, 8.4% are from its space component. BDLI says key programs like ATV or Ariane 5 are “on track” and it showcases the start of Galileo, albeit following multiple delays. BDLI says the German space strategy is paying dividends strategically, but needs to be implemented on the program level. BDLI defines key programs as including further development of Ariane 5, successful use of the International Space Station and a robotic mission to the Moon under German leadership, among others.
While ILA will likely never be able to compete with biggest air shows—such as Farnborough—the show has had noticeably more backing in recent years, particularly from then-Airbus CEO Thomas Enders. Increasingly, Airbus has used ILA as a stage to announce orders, such as the record Emirates deal for 55 A380s in 2010. The company is likely to do the same this year, albeit at a lower level since the market has cooled, with Boeing's 737 MAX catching up with the A320NEO's earlier sales successes.
But companies are also using ILA more as a stage for recruitment. Many of them are having difficulty finding aerospace engineers. “If the company is based in an attractive city like Munich, it is no problem,” says Schrick. “But in other regions it is much more difficult to get the right people. Even attractive pay does not make the difference.”
ILA has been moved to September this year—for the first time—to avoid coming too close to what was originally planned to be the June opening of Berlin's new airport (see p. 52.). BDLI has not made a decision yet on whether ILA will be kept in September or will move back to a date in early summer ahead of Farnborough. Schrick says the association still wants to get more feedback from the industry before making a commitment.