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Aerospace

Frédéric CHAUCHET
Business development manager- Manufacturing/Retail

Aerospace: Airbus, the driving force behind an innovative industrial environment

Airbus is at the forefront of aircraft construction. With 5,200 employees, the units in Nantes and Saint-Nazaire are the second largest hub of Airbus in France. Airbus' success also benefits many subcontractors in an environment conducive to innovation and R&D.


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The 2nd largest Airbus hub in France

Nantes Saint-Nazaire is home to the second largest French Airbus site, specializing in core structural components and fuselage assembly, with 5,200 employees. Including subcontractors, the sector employs 10,000 people in the Loire-Atlantique department.

A wealth of expertise

The presence of major clients and a wide range of subcontracting SMEs makes Nantes Saint-Nazaire a uniquely dynamic industrial eco-system in France. With the Jules Verne IRT and its technology platforms (Composites Technocampus, Smart Factory Technocampus and Ocean Technocampus, the FabMake (a maker space dedicated to advanced manufacturing) and the EMC2 Competitiveness Cluster, the metro area is on the leading edge of the industry of the future.

Jules Verne industrial park

South of the city of Nantes, near the Nantes Atlantique Airport, the Jules Verne industrial innovation hub (70 hectares) represents 8,500 industrial jobs (13,500 by 2025). Organizations present include Airbus, the Ocean Technocampus and the Composites Technocampus. The Jules Verne House, headquarters of the Jules Verne IRT and the EMC2 cluster, and the Manufacturing Academy, a training plant for industrial production, will be built in 2018 and 2019.

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Built on the local expertise in shipbuilding and naval aviation, aerospace is emblematic of Nantes Saint-Nazaire's ability to reinvent itself. Airbus, the global leader in aerospace, has two production sites here. The Nantes site manufactures the central wing boxes, centre line beams, nose cones and nacelle air intakes. The Saint-Nazaire site specializes in assembling, equipping and testing the forward and central fuselages of all aircraft.


Subcontractors benefit from Airbus' success

With an order book that ensures visibility for the next 10 years, Airbus attracts a great many subcontractors to Saint-Nazaire and Nantes. Companies like Figeac Aero, Sogeclair, Dufieux Industries and Simra have moved here to be close to their main client. Stelia Aerospace, born from the merger in 2015 between Aerolia and Sogerma, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airbus. But it also works with other global aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing, Bombardier and Dassault. Hexcel, the global leader in advanced composites, opened one of its three French sites here to supply its aerospace clients around the world. 

Research, innovation, training... three pillars for the future

The public partners support the growth of the aerospace sector. The Region Pays de la Loire created the EMC2 Technocampus for composites, where SMEs can put together collaborative projects and enjoy high-tech facilities in close proximity to major clients. The Jules Verne Technological Research Institute (IRT), created under the Investments in the Future Programme, works with EMC2 to improve the performance of industrial sectors like aerospace. Its model combines research, innovation and training in advanced production technologies to develop the factory of the future.

The factory of the future is here today

Inaugurated in 2014, the Smart Factory Technocampus in Saint-Nazaire serves businesses in several sectors, including aerospace. Virtual reality is used to design digital models, which are much less expensive than physical models, to perform maintenance tests or train operators.

In Nantes, the plant of equipment supplier Daher is one of the first four technology projects accredited by the Alliance for the Industry of the Future, which brings together industry and digital tech stakeholders to roll out the "industry of the future" programme.

A cluster to win new markets

Manufacturers also depend on the complementary businesses here. Sixty-five SMEs in the sector make up the aerospace branch of the Neopolia cluster, which fosters various forms of alliances (consortium, co-contracting) to combine skills and bid on larger contracts and tenders.

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Key figures

500

businesses have ties to aerospace in Pays de la Loire, including 250 in Loire-Atlantique.

25,000

jobs in the region, including 10,000 just in the Loire-Atlantique department.

1.8 billion

This is the total, in euros, of the 360 projects accredited by the EMC2 Cluster.

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Composites
In order to make aircraft more lightweight while maintaining a high level of safety and performance, composite materials are crucial in aerospace R&D. The EMC2 Technocampus specializes in advanced composites, making Nantes Saint-Nazaire the French leader in the sector.
Advanced production technologies
Advanced production technologies using mechanical engineering, innovative composite materials, high speed machining, non-destructive testing, complex structures, robotics and cobotics are increasingly important in aerospace. These technologies are used to produce lightweight structures and automate systems and processes.

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