Summary of our market study

The aeronautical subcontracting sector in France is estimated at between €20 and €25 billion.

The global aeronautical subcontracting market has undergone significant changes and challenges in recent years. As early as 2020, early indicators pointed to difficulties for French suppliers and subcontractors, notably due to the suspension of Boeing 737 MAX production.

Despite this, the civil sector, dominated by Airbus and Boeing, remains a major contributor to industry sales, with Airbus surpassing Boeing in terms of orders.

In the military segment, the French aerospace industry, supported by the government, has seen growth thanks to sales of the Rafale fighter jet by Dassault Aviation, which should benefit 500 French companies.

Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine are home to 28% and 13% of the aeronautical employment pool respectively

Regulatory changes and the trend to relocate production abroad continue to shape the market landscape, as evidenced by the opening of a new production site in France.safran's new production site in Poland in 2018, and the ongoing search for cheaper labor and skilled personnel abroad.

The soaring aerospace subcontracting market in France

Subcontracting plays a crucial role in the aeronautical sector, with a significant share, estimated at between 70% and 80%, of the sector's added value coming from a vast pool of companies numbering between 10,000 and 20,000.

After a slight dip in orders in 2019, the market is on the up again.

France is the European leader in the aerospace subcontracting market.

The overall value of the global aerospace industry market was around 838 billion in 2018, with subcontracting's share estimated at between 200 and 250 billion. The United States controls around 49% of the market. France does well with an 8% share, making it the second-largest player in this field.

In France, national production in the aerospace sector amounted to almost 97.3 billion in 2018, almost half the total production of the European Union and Great Britain.

The civil sector accounts for around 78% of sales. Equipment manufacturers contribute around 37% of sales, and engine manufacturers hold a share of around 15.5%.

The industry accounted for 187,000 direct jobs in France in 2017, and demand for highly skilled workers remains very high.

Production equipment is close to capacity limits, and difficulties in recruiting skilled labor are limiting output.

Sector players

  • Thales is at the forefront of avionics and equipment manufacturing, providing sophisticated technological solutions on a global scale.
  • Safran is another industry giant, operating in aerostructures, engine parts and avionics.
  • Honeywell is renowned for its avionics supplies, interior fittings and engine components.
  • Mechachrome specialized in aerostructures and engine components
  • Figeac Aero is a leading supplier of aerostructures, engine parts and landing gear
  • Latécoère an established supplier of aerostructures and avionics.
  • Stelia Aerospace, an Airbus subsidiary specializing in aerostructures and interior equipment.
  • Le Piston Français (LPF) is a key player in engine subsystems and parts.
  • LISI, another major player, operates in the fields of aerostructures, interior equipment and engine parts.
  • Sabena, a specialist in aircraft and helicopter maintenance through its subsidiary Heli Union
  • Daher, a newcomer to the sector
  • Liebherr, German group
  • Rolls Royce, British specialist
  • United Technology, American multinational
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Presentation

Defined by the French Standards Association (AFNOR) as "the operation by which a contractor subcontracts, under his responsibility, to another person called a subcontractor, all or part of the execution of the contract of enterprise or of the public contract concluded with the contracting authority", subcontracting is part of a determined production cycle as well as the technical specifications required by the principal. as defined by the " Association Française de Normalisation"(AFNOR), subcontracting is subject to a specific production cycle and technical specifications laid down by the client. Subcontractors are organized by tier, corresponding to a value-added flow logic. Aeronautics subcontractors and equipment suppliers together account for 70% to 80% of the sector's added value, and represent a pool of 10,000 to 20,000 companies.

The activities of aeronautical subcontractors logically depend on the dynamism of aircraft orders from the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. By 2022, the industry will have achieved sales of over 740 billion dollars.

Domestic companies in the sector can also count on a surge in orders for Dassault Aviation's Rafale, which is benefiting engine-maker Thalès, equipment manufacturer Safran and shipowner MBDA in particular.

The aerospace industry as a whole has been severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis since the start of 2020, and is now one of the hardest-hit sectors. Prospects for growth and stability have thus evolved into a deep concern among industry players about the survival of many companies, including subcontractors. Nonetheless, the sector saw a resurgence of activity in 2022, particularly on a local scale. Airbus, for example, outperformed Boeing this year, with 661 deliveries versus 480.

1.2 The global market

Apart from France, which is a world leader across the industry's entire value chain, the aerospace subcontracting market brings together a number of OEMs and engine manufacturers from the four corners of the globe. The American conglomerate United Technologies (***). Aerospace activities account for around **% of this American giant's sales.

Lockheed Martin, ...

1.3 France, flagship of the aeronautics industry

Thalès, Safran, LISI and Latécoère are among the world's leading aerospace suppliers and subcontractors. Total national production in **** amounted to **.* billion euros for the aerospace sector as a whole, or **.*% of total production in the European Union (***). [***]

Production value of the aerospace industry France, Germany and the UK, ...

1.4 Business drivers for aeronautical subcontractors

The table below summarizes the various determinants of aeronautical subcontractors' activities. It should be noted that these determinants are the underlying trends and characteristics of the market, and therefore do not include the impact of the Covid-** crisis (***).

2 Demand analysis

2.1 The two giants Airbus and Boeing

The following graph shows the trend in annual orders for Airbus and Boeing. The influence of the pandemic on the sector is clearly visible. In particular, Airbus received *** fewer orders in **** than in the previous year. For Boeing, a drastic drop in orders is observable as early as ****, caused by the ...

2.2 Military expenditure worldwide

Military aviation is a large part of the French aeronautics industry, accounting for around **% of its output by value. In ****, worldwide military spending reached over $*.* trillion, a figure that has been rising steadily over the past ten years.

Military expenditure worldwide World, ****-****, Billions of dollars Source: ****

In addition, countries contribute ...

2.3 Air freight

Air freight activities within the European Union have made very little progress over the last ten years.

On a global scale, however, air freight transport, measured in billions of tonne-kilometres carried byICAO, has been rising steadily for the past * years, at a compound annual growth rate of +*.**% over the ****-**** ...

2.4 Increase in air passenger traffic

The keystone of the sector, passenger air transport is set to grow over the next few years, rapidly surpassing its pre-pandemic level. This increase in air traffic represents a favorable environment for growth in the outsourcing sector over the next few years.

Air passenger numbers compared with **** World, **** - ****, as % of ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Characteristics of the business fabric in the aeronautics sector

According to Gifasthe aerospace industry generated ***,*** direct jobs in France in **** (***), with engineers and managers accounting for **% of them; employees, technicians, supervisors representing **% and skilled workers **%, with **,*** people recruited in **** and *,*** new positions created. In ****, the sector has recruited nearly **,*** additional people.

The job pools are **% in Occitanie (***), there is a ...

3.2 Value chain

The aeronautics supply chain involves several thousand companies, from parts manufacturers to maintenance and repair operators.

Parts manufacturers: IHI, Meggitt, ITP Aero, L* Technologies Sub-system manufacturers: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki, TAI, GKN Aerospace Equipment and engine manufacturers : Thalès, Safran, UTC Aerospace Systems Aircraft manufacturers: Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation Customers: AirFrance ...

3.3 Challenges for the subsidiary

Subcontractors often find it difficult to adapt to the demand for higher production rates, shorter delivery times, uncompromising quality control and downward pressure on prices. Manufacturers suffer "the scissor effectthe "scissor effect" of lower production rates for older programs, before benefiting from the ramp-up of new programs (***).

An overheated production ...

3.4 Outsourcing geography


To minimize production costs and find new pools of skilled personnel, industry players often relocate part of their production abroad. On July *, ****, SAFRAN opened a new production site in Poland, for a total investment of €**m. This new plant employing *** people focuses on the production of a single part: low-pressure ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 The challenge of supplier ramp-up

Growth in the aeronautics market goes hand in hand with the need to increase the production capacities of the various suppliers in the aeronautics value chain. For Airbus deliveries, for example, the production rate of Tier * suppliers is still the limiting factor. [***] But it is above all SMEs that suffer from ...

4.2 Main expense items

Change in weight of raw materials and procurement, and personnel costs France, ****-****, in Source: ****

In a sample of ** equipment manufacturers with sales between €** and €*** million (***), the weight of raw materials has tended to remain relatively stable. Between **** and ****, this weight increased by just *.* percentage points. In ****, the weight of raw ...

4.3 Lower working capital requirement (WCR)

In ****, the WCR of operators in the same sample fell by *.* days' sales compared with ****. This evolution is explained by a decrease in customer lead times and an increase in supplier lead times. However, inventories at these same companies increased in ****.

[***] Customer, inventory and supplier lead times for aeronautical equipment France, ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Legislation on subcontracting

In France, Law no. **-**** of December **, ****, on subcontracting, sets out the terms of organization between subcontractors and subcontracted parties. This law has been successively consolidated by several other laws and ordinances, the latest being ordinance n°****-**** of November **, ****, laying down the legislative part of the public procurement code. This ...

5.2 The EN9100 standard

This quality standard was recently revised for the entire aeronautical sector. This iinternational standard, the most widely used in the aerospace sector, aims to take better account of the constraints weighing on the subsidiary's players, while guaranteeing ever-greater aircraft safety.

Among the major changes, the responsibility of each company is reinforced ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Segmentation

The companies listed below represent a cross-section of France's largest aerospace suppliers, equipment and engine manufacturers.

6.2 List of companies included in the statistics

The various statistics concerning intermediate operating balances, working capital requirements and expense items presented in the "Supply analysis" section have been compiled from the financial data of the following companies:

ACE Aéronautique Aero ** Aero Gearbox International Alkan Alsenam Ami Metals France Athos Aéronautique Auxitrol Aviacomp Blanc Aéro Corse ...

  • Mecachrome Groupe
  • Honeywell
  • Figeac Aéro Groupe
  • Latecoere
  • Stelia Aerospace
  • Le Piston Français
  • Lisi Aerospace groupe
  • Lauak
  • Collins Aerospace
  • Heli union
  • E.S.P.A.C.E
  • Safran Groupe
  • Zodiac Aerospace (Groupe Safran)
  • NEXTEAM Chatellerault - Ex Mecafi
  • Nexteam Ventana
  • Thales
  • Sabena Technics (TAT Groupe)
  • Expliseat
  • Domusa Groupe
  • Daher
  • UUDS Aero
  • Crouzet
  • JVGroup - BT2i
  • LFG Groupe
  • Famat
  • AMI Metals

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Size of aeronautics industry by country
  • Aeronautical industry sales
  • Breakdown of sales in the defense and aeronautics sector
  • Aerospace industry sales
  • Subcontracting in the aeronautics industry by company size
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Latest news

Thales plans to invest in Atos for defense and intelligence - 30/04/2024
  • - Thales is considering the acquisition of the Mission Critical Systems (MCS) division of Defense and Security within BDS.
  • - Thales's recent €3.6 billion acquisition of Imperva positions Thales in the world's Top 5 in cyber.
  • - The MCS division generates annual revenues of €200-300 million. This amount represents part of the BDS portfolio estimated at 1.5 billion euros.
Thanks to Hitachi's takeover of Thales' rail business, Italy's Mer Mec arrives in France - 15/04/2024
  • - Sale of Hitachi's German, British and French signaling activities to Italian company Mer Mec.
  • - Founded in 1970, Mer Mec is mainly involved in signalling, electrical traction and telecommunications for the rail industry. It is present in 73 countries and belongs to the Angel Group.
  • - The Italian rail specialist already works with RATP and SNCF in France
  • Purchase price of Thales GTS by Hitachi Rail: 1.7 billion euros.
  • - The European Commission and the British competition authority had given the green light to Hitachi Rail's €1.7 billion takeover of Thales GTS (the French group's rail activities). The only condition was that the Japanese manufacturer make a number of divestments.
  • - Number of employees at Hitachi Rail STS France (ex-Ansaldo STS): over 600.
All the lights are green for Thales, except in the space sector - 06/03/2024
  • - Order intake for 2023: 23.1 billion euros
  • - Last year's sales: 18.4 billion euros
  • - Acquisition of US company Imperva
  • - Planned acquisition of Cobham Aerospace Communications
  • - Number of new hires planned in France for 2024: 7,000
  • - Number of employees redeployed within the Thales Alenia Space group: 1,300.
Domusa continues to grow with the acquisition of Technic Aviation - 13/01/2024
  • Aeronautical equipment manufacturing and maintenance group
  • six months after the acquisition of Equip'Aero in L'Isle-Jourdain (Gers) Equip'Aero, which employs around 100 people and repairs a wide range of equipment including valves, engine equipment, flight controls, hydraulic systems, landing gear and auxiliary engines, has acquired Technic Aviation in L'Isle-Jourdain (Gers).equip'Aero, which employs around 100 people and repairs a wide range of equipment including valves, engine equipment, flight controls, hydraulic systems, landing gear and auxiliary engines, has acquired Technic Aviation in Manosque (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) at the end of 2023.
  • Technic Aviation specializes in repairing wheels, brakes and propellers for Airbus, Boeing, general aviation, helicopter and military aircraft, with sales of 10 million euros and 50 employees
  • The Domusa Group was created in 2010 by Didier Cochu, who acquired Satori from the Cobham Group and then, in 2016, Sathom from the Thommen Group.
  • The Swiss company Sathom manufactures and repairs navigation instruments such as altimeters, with 40 employees.
  • The group employs more than 250 people and achieved consolidated sales of 41 million euros in 2023, split equally between equipment manufacturing and maintenance.
Crouzet to be acquired by Tikehau - 10/01/2024
  • The consortium of buyers is negotiating to acquire 100% of Crouzet, a French manufacturer of mechatronic components based in Valence.
  • One third of Crouzet's business is linked to the aerospace industry.
  • Crouzet has 1,300 employees.
  • The acquisition is expected to be worth around €160 million.
  • The company is active in various sectors, including nuclear, medical, rail and automotive.
  • Crouzet is present in several countries, including Morocco, China, Switzerland and the United States.
  • The company has been in the hands of the LBO France fund since 2017.
Figeac Aero aims to cut costs to reduce debt - 10/01/2024
  • Aircraft parts manufacturer Figeac Aero has received financial backing of 58.5 million euros in 2022 from Tikehau Capital for a 26% stake.
  • The family of founder Jean-Claude Maillard retains a majority 54% stake in the company.
  • Figeac Aero employed 3,200 people at the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • By 2023, the company had increased its sales by 21% to 341 million euros.
  • Sales should reach around 385 million euros in 2024, and aim to return to its pre-crisis level of 447 million euros in 2025.
  • Figeac Aero forecasts annual growth of 10% to reach 550 to 600 million euros by 2028.
  • Figeac Aero aims to increase its Ebitda from 13% of sales in 2024 to 16% in 2028.
  • Figeac Aero has an order book of 3.7 billion euros.
  • Figeac Aero has invested 14 million euros in the construction of a 5,000 m² workshop in Casablanca, Morocco, where it employs 600 people.
  • The company opened a plant in China in a joint venture with aluminum manufacturer Shandong Nanshan in 2023.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Mecachrome Groupe
Figeac Aéro Groupe
Stelia Aerospace
Le Piston Français
Lisi Aerospace groupe
Collins Aerospace
Heli union

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