The Paris Air Show is traditionally the place for big announcements. On Tuesday 20 June, Gifas, on its stand and accompanied by several Presidents of the Regions, launched phase II of the "Industrial Performance" programme. As a reminder, between 2014 and 2016, 401 SMEs, micro-enterprises and 69 contractors benefited from this three-year plan to improve the aeronautics sector, which mobilised €23m of investments. The ambition is to improve the delivery performance of aeronautical subcontractors so that contractors receive high-quality deliveries on time to ensure their rate of production. The results are positive, since the number of SMEs that participated in the programme and which have an on-time delivery (OTD) of 95% or more has doubled.
Ten days ago, Carole Delga, President of the Occitania Region, and Patrick Pedrafita, Director of the A350 XWB programme at Airbus and a member of Gifas, presented the outline of the second phase of the programme, in Toulouse.
On the strength of these results, the new "Industrial Performance II" plan foresees €17.6m of additional investments nationally over the period 2017-2019, of which €1.7m for Occitania alone.
"With 86,000 jobs and 800 companies, we are Europe's leading aerospace region. However, our subcontractors remain fragile: they are faced with increasing production rates and increasing demands placed on the contractors by a globalised market and aggressive foreign competition. We must therefore give our companies the tools to respond to these new challenges", said Carole Delga.
The Region will commit €853,000 to this programme, i.e. a little more than 50% of the regional plan budget, the remaining funds being provided by industry (25%) and Gifas (25%). The objective is to accompany some 50 additional SMEs. "Our region will be the first in terms of financial support as well as accompanied companies", commented the Regional President. Nationally, 300 SMEs are targeted including 150 new ones.
According to Patra Pedrafita, during the second phase of the programme, "the four priorities are to improve the supply chain with high-quality, OTDs, improve relations between contractors and suppliers, improve the competitiveness of SMEs and develop employment in the sector".
A first pilot cluster was launched in April in the Occitania region with Ratier Figeac as prime contractor.
Didier Katzenmayer: "We cannot afford to lapse".
"We acknowledge the improvements in deliveries in the supply chain through the first phase of the Industrial Performance programme. We have recorded 40% fewer delays and an OTD increase by 50%", said Christophe Cador, Vice-President of the Gifas Aero SME Committee and President of Finaero.
Despite this progress, contractors such as Airbus are asking subcontractors to further improve production. "Priority is, of course, on the OTD, but achieving 100% OTD is useless if the parts are of poor quality. With four aircraft coming out of our factories every day, we can no longer afford to fail", said Didier Katzenmayer, Director of Industrial Affairs for Airbus.
For Christophe Cador, "the French aeronautics industry is at crossroads":
"We must not miss this pivotal period. SMEs are aware of this situation and are reviewing their position to retain market shares. The objective of this programme is that Airbus manufactures the maximum number of parts in France".
Only 25% of SMEs have more than 100 employees
Another issue is the size of supply-chain companies. Christophe Cador recalled that "only 25% of OEMs have more than 500 employees and 25% of SMEs have more than 100 employees". The supply chain is fragile and fragmented, added Patrick Pedrafita. More ETI (businesses between 250 and 4,999 employees, Editor's note) are needed. A company needs a workforce size of 100-150 employees to be strong enough to invest". Gifas, like the Region, welcomed the recent groupings of SMEs (companies with 10 to 249 employees) to achieve this critical size (e.g. We Are Aerospace or Nexteam Group).
The last point of the supply chain fragility is its very large dependence on the contractors. "Many companies only work in aeronautics or half of their business relies on a single aircraft programme. There is not enough diversification", pointed out Christophe Cador.