Business owners and the heads of business units linked to the Andalusian aeronautical sector analysed the key future challenges facing the aeronautical industry during a training seminar held in Seville. This activity sponsored by the Hélice foundation and the companies Airbus Military y Alestis highlighted the need for Andalusian firms to continue with the diversification of both services and customers and advances in the field of RDI to maintain their competitiveness in this highly globalised sector.


More than 80 business owners, managers and executives and the heads of industrial business units linked with the aeronautical industry attended the Aeronautical Business Seminar "Improving the Supply Chain in the Aeronautical Sector", held at the San Telmo International Institute in Seville on 22 September.

This event analysed the key challenges faced by the international aeronautical industry and more specifically in Andalusia, through the insights of professionals involved in the supply chain of major aeronautical projects. In particular, it reflected on the transformation which the leading manufacturers are undergoing in a new scenario characterised by globalisation, with emerging economies assuming an increasingly important role.

This event organised by the San Telmo International Institute under the agreements which it has signed with the Hélice Foundation was sponsored by the Foundation itself and the companies Airbus Military and Alestis Aerospace. It included a revealing round table discussion involving the heads of these companies, which gave the executives and professionals participating the opportunity to share their concerns and experiences regarding the present and future of the sector. Juan Pedro Vela, President of the Hélice Foundation, acted as moderator for this discussion during which Jesús Espinosa, head of Production Engineering and Industrial Development at Airbus Military, and Gaizka Grajales, Managing Director of Alestis, discussed the strategic approach which should be taken to ensure that Andalusian aeronautical firms meet the challenges of competing in the global market.

he speakers highlighted the need for the Andalusian aeronautical industry to continue with its diversification not only of services and workloads, but also in terms of customers and orders at an international level, reducing its current dependence upon a single company, namely Airbus and EADS in Europe. They also stressed the importance of continuing to invest in RDI to develop new technologies which will result in greater added value and increased competitiveness in the sector.

Adapting to new times

Gaizka Grajales pointed out during his speech that the creation of Tier 1 suppliers such as Alestis is a reflection of “the interest which major aeronautical manufacturers have in suppliers that can provide a complete service of design, calculation and manufacture of infrastructures, but which are also competitive on a global market which has seen notable growth in Asian and American countries.” He also stated that Andalusia “has the technology, it is the only Spanish region which manufactures aircraft and it has all that it needs to ensure that the growth experienced in recent years is converted into future successes. ”

Jesús Espinosa said that “the Andalusian aeronautical sector needs to develop other areas such as the aerospace industry, and for both civil and military aviation.” He also highlighted that the development and integration of aircraft systems is an area of special interest to Airbus Military. Other key areas considered were the promotion of Tier 1 suppliers “capable of offering full manufacturing, testing and other services necessary to provide direct delivery to the FAL,” and RDI activities through Tier 2 suppliers, “which could become a niche market for the development of technologies which are offered in turn to Tier 1 suppliers and major manufacturers.” However, he advised that the current global trend is towards the concentration of Tier 1 companies, “which have increased their business volume and turnover,” and that Andalusian firms need to work more on RDI because “we are not up to speed.”

Juan Pedro Vela also agreed on the need to develop and diversify “in other sectors and products of the aeronautical industry with more growth potential,” such as leisure aviation and unmanned aircraft systems. “There are other possibilities apart from aerostructures, which are the mainstay in Andalusia, but the important thing is for companies to define their role in the supply chain and firmly pursue their objectives.” Vela stated that “Andalusian firms need to be prepared for international expansion” and that innovation, technology, high quality standards and agility “are fundamental in order to compete in the sector, particularly in the case of Tier 1 suppliers.”

In the second part of the seminar the participants analysed the specific case of the Mercadona supermarket chain, which has revolutionised the approach taken to the supply chain, to provide new insights into the management of suppliers in the aeronautical sector.

After the discussion of this case, the director of the Hélice Foundation, Manuel Cruz, and the organisers of the seminar, José María González Alorda Iriarte and Raimundo Gómez del Sol, presented the seminar’s conclusions, which highlighted the opportunity which companies in the Andalusian sector have to go one step further and position themselves as leaders in the world aeronautical industry in the coming years.