Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Aeronautic components, equipment and services are needed for France’s active aerospace sector.
With France coming slowly and cautiously out of lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic, confidence in the aerospace sector is on an upturn again. Government aid has helped maintain the industry, curbing massive layoffs by funding employment on a part-time basis. The industry is set to take off again with confirmed aircraft orders, opening new opportunities for U.S. suppliers of specialty parts and know-how to enter the French aerospace sector.
France’s traditional major markets are Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Morocco. Dassault Aviation has just signed major contracts with Egypt for 30 of its Rafale fighter aircraft; Greece has purchased 18 planes, 12 of which are secondhand; and Croatia is buying 12 Rafale secondhand jets.
Dassault Aviation also hopes to land orders with India to supply 110 Rafale fighter jets to the Indian Air Force and 57 to the Indian Navy.
As far as commercial passenger aircraft, Airbus has fared fairly well in spite of the pandemic. In 2020, a total of 566 planes were delivered—about one-third fewer than in 2019. But the company is optimistic about orders over the next few years.
Airbus said it planned to pump up production of its short- to medium-range A320 airliners from 40 aircraft per month in 2021 to 64 per month in 2023 and as many as 70 per month by early 2024. Airbus also said it is developing a freight cargo version of its A350 passenger jet.
Meanwhile, France, Germany and Spain have agreed on the next phase of their plan to collaborate on developing a new European combat fighter plane, known as FCAS, or Future Combat Air System. The negotiations concerned how to share the work and the intellectual property, as well as the costs.
An initial prototype of the aircraft is slated for 2027. The new fighter jet is expected to replace the French-manufactured Rafale and German and Spanish Eurofighter models by 2040.