October 08, 2012
Elyse Moody New York
In the Netherlands, home to more than 150 aerospace companies, MRO and logistics dominate: 66% of the €2.3 billion-plus ($3 billion) in aerospace and defense revenues in 2011 derived from the sector.
Although Dutch aircraft construction ceased in 1996, to secure its future, the country has invested in support infrastructure and technologies—innovative materials, advanced design tools and production processes, along with smart systems, such as wiring and information technology. The Airbus A380, for example, contains a Fokker Technologies material called Glare, which reduces its overall weight by 1,000 kg (2,200 lb.).
A focus on value-adding activities drives the way companies such as Fokker Services map the future. “I think the ambitions of the Netherlands are not necessarily always in the maintenance itself but also involving development, in materials and techniques and methodologies,” says President Peter Somers. Organizations such as the Netherlands Aerospace Group (NAG) market these strengths to meet the Dutch national aviation policy's lofty goal: to become one of the world's top three countries for MRO. It now holds about 1.5% of the global MRO market.
Location is one inherent advantage for the Netherlands, which lies in the center of Europe's three largest economies: Germany, the U.K., and France. From the country, 95% of Europe's major cities can be reached within 24 hr. by road. Its MROs have particularly expedient access to suppliers. “I'm right in the middle of a triangle between Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam, and that's where all of my [European] suppliers are, in that triangle,” says Constant van Schaik, CEO of Samco Aircraft Maintenance, a regional aircraft MRO at Maastricht Aachen Airport, situated less than 10 mi. from the Belgian and German borders.
Moreover, the Netherlands' track record of aviation expertise weighs in its favor. “One of the main reasons [the Netherlands is interesting to investors] is because there is a lot of experience here in MRO. KLM was actually the first airline in the world,” says Frank Jansen, NAG's managing director. “Because the majority of our aerospace activity in the Netherlands is MRO-related, there are quite [a number of] qualified personnel available.”
Jansen says the aerospace industry in the Netherlands employs 17,000 people, about 11,000 of whom work in MRO. As the country invests in training future mechanics, Jansen hopes that will move the MRO industry closer to its market-leading goal. He believes that training, plus cooperation among members of the industry, is the way to do that.
Central to this national strategy is a concept-in-progress of three distinct MRO clusters: locating commercial aircraft maintenance primarily at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, focusing on regional aircraft maintenance at Maastricht and homing in on military work at Woensdrecht Airport in the southwest.