Business aviation and helicopters represent the low points for the French aerospace industry, according to the recently released GIFAS results for 2017. While those markets have not recovered as much as the air transport sector, “steadily, we see the market going a little bit up,” said GIFAS president Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. In the helicopter segment, the weakness of the oil-and-gas market has still weighed on the business, even if some other segments, like search-and-rescue, police and security, aeromedical, and VIP, have compensated.
In positive news, the association reported, "We are facing an historical period, because the French industry has never produced so many airplanes as in 2017, due to the good performance and competitiveness of the supply chain,” added Trappier. Airbus produces 60 of its A320 family per month and aims to reach a 63-per -month rate within one year.
Defense orders accounted for only 16 percent of the 2017 total, compared to 31 percent the previous year, when three orders of Dassault's Rafale fighter (from Egypt, Qatar, and India) inflated the numbers. However, recent Rafale orders spell a future increase in production rates, up to two or three per month from one today. Trappier noted that several cooperate defense programs are under study, notably the Future Combat Aerial System. It is “still on track even if many questions are still on the table.” He added that Dassault and Airbus would make “some announcements” at the ILA Berlin airshow in late April.
The industry recruited 12,000 employees in 2017, bringing to 190,000 workers the total number of people employed by the 391 GIFAS members. The same amount of recruitments is envisioned for 2018 to secure expected ramp ups in production.