Strong supply chain propels Irish aerospace and aviation industry

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Sean Long, Senior UK Market Adviser for Engineering & Electronics at Enterprise Ireland, describes current trends and opportunities for Irish exporters in the aerospace and aviation sector.

Worth over €4.1bn to the Irish economy, Ireland’s aerospace and aviation industry is soaring to new heights. Irish lessors manage €80 billion in assets worldwide and today there are more than 250 companies actively involved in the aerospace, aviation and space sectors in Ireland, providing employment for approximately 42,000 full-time workers.

That number is set to grow further, as Dublin Aerospace, Ireland’s largest independent aircraft maintenance provider, announced that it will create 150 new jobs over the next three years. Supported by Enterprise Ireland, the expansion of Dublin Aerospace’s workforce is part of the company’s strategy to double its turnover by 2023.

With over 50% of the industry’s global spend managed by aircraft leasing companies headquartered in Ireland, which is also home to 30 international leasing operations, Ireland is uniquely positioned to help drive the industry’s innovation forward.

Sean Phelan, Director at QCD Solutions, a global sourcing supply chain and Lean consulting company, describes the scale of the opportunity facing Irish exporters: “The world fleet of commercial aircraft is forecast to nearly double to 40,000 aircraft by 2036, with a projected value of $5.5 trillion. There is additional demand for 35,000 aircraft over the next twenty years, to replace existing aircraft and support new aircraft requirements. That creates significant opportunities for Irish aerospace supply chain companies to secure long-term contracts on the aircraft programs that will meet this demand. As of September, the aerospace industry has a backlog of firm orders for 6991 Airbus Aircraft and 5659 Boeing Aircraft already placed. Bombardier’s potential deal with Airbus also promises additional opportunities to the Irish aerospace supply chain.”

Ireland has approximately 115 active Enterprise Ireland-backed companies within the sector, including CAE Parc Aviation, The Botany Weaving Mill, Ohshima, Eirtech Aviation Services, Inflight Audio, Takumi Precision Engineering, Dawnlough, DPF and Eirecomposites, paving the way for other start-ups to consider Ireland as a location to conduct business. Speaking at the Dublin Aerospace announcement, the then Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, affirmed the national importance of the sector, “The aerospace and aviation sector is extremely important for Ireland, contributing more than €4 billion to the economy.”

Ireland has a growing reputation for innovation and service excellence within the aerospace and aviation industry which is itself experiencing rapid growth. Its established supply chain includes both prime and tier 1 companies, including Bombardier, Rockwell Collins, and Thales. The growth of the aviation and aerospace sector has been driven by the unique strengths Irish companies offer these partners, including a continuous investment in developing the skills of a highly-educated and adaptable workforce, and a focus on research, development and innovation, which strengthens their competitiveness in the sector. These strengths are central to what Enterprise Ireland defines as the Irish Advantage and help companies within the sector to achieve business wins across the world.

David Quin, Supply Chain Director at Rockwell Collins, echoes the advantages of working with companies in Ireland, “At Rockwell Collins in Kilkeel, we procure over €20 million from our Irish supply base. This success is based on a responsive and collaborative approach to our supply chain solutions and the reliable delivery of high quality parts.”

Boasting a competitive and innovative aviation and aerospace sector, there is significant potential for Irish exporters to further build ambitious and successful partnerships in key international markets. Enterprise Ireland supports that work with presences at the world-renowned Farnborough, Dubai and Paris Air Shows, including a dedicated Aviation Aerospace Ireland pavilion. To support the development of Irish aerospace supply chain programmes, Irish companies are encouraged to expand their quality processes, procedures and management styles in line with established international aerospace standards such as SC21 and AS9100, endorsed by mentoring programmes from key prime and tier 1 companies, such as Bombardier and Rockwell Collins.

 

This article was originally published in the Sunday Independent

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