French manufacturers have a significant presence at the Dubai Airshow with 45 companies represented. Twenty-five of those are exhibiting under the French tricolor flag at the national pavilion. The consortium is organized by the Groupement des Industries Françaises Aéronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS, Stand 840).
"The Dubai Airshow may not be the highest priority for GIFAS, but it remains important because of the economic potential of this region and the long-standing relationships between customers in the area and French industry," said GIFAS Christophe Robin. Most of the big names in French industry will be present, from Airbus to Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran, MBDA and Zodiac Aerospace.
At the end of 2016, GIFAS members created the Middle East French Aerospace Network (MEFAN), an organization based in Abu Dhabi to unite the French presence in the region and identify potential partners. MEFAN has about 30 members and is lead by Vincent Gorry, the international director of GIFAS. Its spectrum of influence ranges from commercial aviation to military aeronautics and space.
Important topics at the Dubai Airshow this year include the possible replacement of the UAE’s Mirage 2000-9s with the Rafale. According to some sources, French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the deal at the inauguration of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi on November 9. In addition, General André Lanata, chief of staff of the French air force, will be part of the official French delegation during the show. GIFAS organizes several company visits for its members, including to Strata Manufacturing (Mubadala, Stand 1110), Emirates Engineering (Chalet A31-A33, Stand 1015) and Etihad Engineering (Chalet S19). Defense companies will also be able to meet with Emirates Defense Industries Company (Stand 810).
Many French exhibitors are here to deepen old relationships. Thales Group, for example, has had a presence in the region since 1978 and today has 300 people working there.
French industry is well placed in the Middle East with aerospace products. Mirage 2000-9 electronic equipment is one example, along with Crotale missiles operated by the UAE. Thales also supplied the air traffic management system at Abu Dhabi International Airport and in-flight entertainment equipment for Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways aircraft.
"The Middle East represents 15 percent of Thales's total order intake [€1.5 billion/$1.75 billion], according to the group. Its ambition is to increase the number of employees in the region by 25 percent by 2020, to 400 to 500 people.
At the Dubai Airshow, Thales is introducing its new Force Multiplier aerial platform. Designed in cooperation with PAL Aerospace, this is a new operational aircraft platform equipped with a Searchmaster multirole radar and an Amascos multi-mission system, designed for maritime and ground surveillance. The group will also present its mini-UAV Spy'Ranger, along with the latest technology in the field of passenger experience and UAV traffic management.
"Our stakes are to sell our engines to local companies, and support Dassault in its export campaign for the Rafale," said engine manufacturer Safran. The company provides support and MRO services for CFM56 engines, 900 of which are in service in the region. The group is also part of the 50-50 AMES joint venture that it created in 2010 with AFI KLM Engineering & Maintenance, the MRO arm of the Air France KLM Group.
"The Middle East is a very important region for us," said an AFI KLM E & M spokesperson. The company has several ongoing discussions with local airlines and is expected to announce new MRO deals at the show. The Dubai Airshow is also an opportunity for the company to show its predictive MRO solution, Prognos.
GIFAS brought a variety of French small and medium-sized enterprises to Dubai. Among them is Dedienne Aerospace, based in Toulouse, a specialist in tools for the maintenance industry (MRO). "We have a development strategy by major regions, with a presence in Singapore to cover Southeast Asia, and Dubai for the Middle East," said Jean-Claude Vollot, CEO of the company. Dedienne Aerospace has a site in Dubai where it employs 25 people to provide engineering solutions and customer support.
Another example is the Weare group, based in Montauban. This €200 million turnover company, which specializes in the manufacture of aerostructures and engine parts, is seeking a partner in Dubai. "This is one of the reasons for our presence at the show," said Philippe Rivière, CEO. Weare is also looking to open a facility in the United States, either in Houston or Los Angeles, to support its main customer, Airbus, and develop new markets with GE Aviation and Pratt & Whitney. Weare already has bases in Japan, Tokyo and Singapore.