The only way to resolve technology access and U.S. government export restrictions imposed by ITAR is by “not including any U.S.-sourced technology into our products,” the President of the Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe (ASD) said yesterday.
Charles Edelstenne, who is also CEO of France’s Dassault Aviation (manufacturer of the Rafale fighter and the Falcon family of executive jets), said that the U.S. ITAR rules will continue to be a factor in every area of business for Europe’s aerospace and defense companies.
In the context of space programs, steps are already being made towards completely excluding U.S. input in order to stay clear of the ITAR restrictions, adds Francois Gayet, the permanent Secretary-General of the ASD.
(Photo: Eurofighter Typhoon of the British Royal Air Force. Europe's aeronautics industry is doing well, says the ASD. Credit: Rolls-Royce Aerospace Defence)
“The European Commission has already considered to go forward with an ‘ITAR-free’ development of new space equipment. I know some European companies have moved ahead to explore this option.”
(Photo: Prototype of Rheinmetall's Skyranger self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery system, installed in a Mowag Piranha armored vehicle. Europe's land systems industry now employs 98,000. Credit: Rheinmetall)
In one of the non-descript office blocks of Brussels' EU quarters, Edelstenne and Gayet yesterday presented the annual “state of the union” of the European aerospace and defense industry. They painted an overall picture that looks rosy indeed, despite all the troubles that the delayed A380 mega-jumbo program and political interference have recently been causing for Airbus and its parent company EADS.
“2006 has been a remarkably good year,” says Edelstenne, an upturn that “comes at a time of soaring oil prices that ought to have sent the industry into an uncontrolled downward spin.”
“But,” he says, “the strong growth of the air transport sector, together with the fast growing economies of emerging countries, during 2006 sustained the demand for new aircraft.”
“General aviation including business jets is riding high on a wave of enthusiasm that shows no sign of diminishing in 2007. … The space sector has shown signals of recovery in both civil [80%] and military [20%] markets. And the major European defense companies have increased their turnover and order book and they continue to expand their operations in the U.S.” Edelstenne says.
Worldwide, the growth of turnover in the aerospace and defense sector for 2006 is estimated to be between 7-10%, says Edelstenne, adding that in Europe, the figure amounted to 7.17% (from 112.9 to 121 billion euros).
“Our industries overall created 24,000 new jobs in 2006, increasing the level of employment by 4% to 638,000 direct employees. R&D spending increased by 8.73% from 12.6 to 13.7 billion.” The order intake, however, took an 18.5% dive from EUR217.1 billion in 2005 to EUR176.9 billion in 2006.
In terms of both employment and value, around 10% of the European aerospace and defense activities is performed in the U.S. market.
For aeronautics (civil and defense combined), Edelstenne presented figures that showed an 88.17-billion euro turnover in 2006, representing an 8.05% growth compared to 2005. Employment in this sector grew from 430,000 to 448,000. The operating profit grew from 6.9% to 7.1%. That, says Edelstenne, is pretty good given that the competitive pressure experienced by many Euro companies is “aggravated by the unfavorable dollar-euro exchange rate.”
European investment in aeronautics R&D, however, fell from 12.3% to 11.84% (11.4 billion euros in nominal terms).
The European space sector saw a 12.8% growth in turnover to almost 5 billion euros, and a 3.5% growth in employment to 28,863.
The continent’s land defense systems industry in 2006 employed 98,000 (3,000 more than in 2005) and had a turnover of 16.7 billion (up 2.45%). The percentage for R&D here was 8%.
The naval industry employed 63,000 (2,500 more than in 2005) and turned over 11.1 billion euros (up 8.82%). Naval R&D investment was 11%.
--Joris Janssen Lok
(Photo: An F-100 type Aegis destroyer of the Spanish Navy, built by that country's Navantia shipbuilders. Europe's naval industry turned over more than 11 billion euros in 2006. Credit: Australian Defense Dept.)