Mexico’s Aerospace Sector: Taking Off – March 2014
British Embassy Mexico City
Mexico has become the third largest global exporter in the aerospace sector. The industry has grown 20% p.a. in the last 7 years: in 2012 Mexican aerospace exports were worth US$5 billion, while FDI in the sector exceeded US$1.3 billion. The UK and Mexico have a growing commercial relationship in the aerospace sector: and with shrinkage of the industry in Europe, we are working hard to persuade British suppliers to consider Mexico as a target market and a key partner.
Seeing Rapid GrowthThe Mexican aerospace industry is growing as companies increase their local engine components production. Analysts believe suppliers need to produce 20% of their output in low-cost markets to be competitive and remain suppliers to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The French company SAFRAN has 4,400 employees in Mexico. DELTA and Aeromexico are building a large Maintenance and Repair centre in Querétaro (central Mexico), and other airlines are considering Mexico for maintenance. Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Zodiac and Textron have a presence in Chihuahua near the US border; MD Helicopters are in Monterrey, also in the north: while Eurocopter and Bombardier have extensive facilities in Querétaro. Mexico is keen to develop industries like aerospace that are high-tech/low volume. Aerospace expertise required in Mexico includes special processes; anodising; forging/casting; heat treatments and coatings; composites development; sheet metal handling; and complex machining. A challenge is to get the 350 aerospace companies in the market certified to NADCAP and AS9100 standards. FRISA is a Mexican company that overcame these challenges to win Rolls-Royce’s Supplier Excellence Award in 2013, with their huge steel rings for aero-engines.
UK Companies with Presence in Mexico
A significant UK aerospace cluster is being created in the northern state of Sonora, spurred by aerospace production moving from the US. TRAC has a plant in Sonora that is pioneering new technologies and delivering high quality product. Senior Aerospace PLC has an expanding plant in Saltillo (NE Mexico), while Bodycote inaugurated a new plant in Sonora in 2013, to provide specialist heat treatments for blades and other engine parts.
There is UK activity in other parts of the country. Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems has a plant in Querétaro. GKN Aerospace has a long established plant in Baja California (NW Mexico): they are a great partner in our efforts to increase understanding of Mexico amongst UK suppliers.
Education and Training Opportunities in Aerospace Development
While many Mexican States are developing their own aerospace education programmes, there is no consistent offer for trainee Mexican engineers. A number of foreign companies are working to encourage an integrated Higher Education training programme for engineers and technicians. And there is a new university dedicated to aerospace development in Querétaro. But there remain many untapped opportunities for win/win activity, with UK educational policy and commercial input helping Mexico upskill its workforce to the benefit of UK (and other) companies in the market place.
To quote one British company representative in Mexico: "international plants do not represent an export of jobs from the UK. In fact we have a ‘virtuous circle’: compressor blades that are undergoing volume manufacturing in Mexico is work that could never have been won in the UK, but the development of those blades will be done in the Midlands – highly-skilled work we would not otherwise have had. The two locations taken together will be greater than the sum of the individual parts”. Another UK company said: “For any UK company in the aerospace sector, they need to know that the market is flat in Europe, and Mexico is a solid market for quality products; it is easy to do business there; it’s more competitive than China and India due to its NAFTA status and there is excellent respect for IP protection. They need to get over and see it for themselves". We could not put it better. There are great aerospace opportunities in Mexico, and we are working to highlight them to UK companies.
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