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The companies of the Basque Aerospace Cluster HEGAN have over 10% growth in sales

The member companies of the Basque Aeronautics and Space Cluster Association - HEGAN - recorded a turnover of 1,935 million euros in 2015 for their production centres across the globe, a growth of more than 10% on the previous year's turnover and the result of an increase in additional capacity and the implementation of new programmes. Exports stood at 1,226 million euros, 7.6% more than in 2014. The R&D data remained at sufficient levels and there was a slight drop in employment of around a hundred people out of a total of 12,440 jobs created directly by the cluster's members worldwide.

This reaffirms the aerospace industry's march towards technological excellence, which generates economic growth, investment and quality employment, even in times of crisis, and which backs investment and innovation in order to grow stronger in the future. These investments are of a considerable size: over the last 10 years, the companies in the Cluster earmarked a total accumulated investment of 1.431 million euros for R&D&i, most of which (88%) was self-financed, so as to not miss the boat as regards new aeronautical and space programmes.

The Basque aerospace sector has a dynamic stimulating effect on the economy, since it now represents 6.1% of the industrial GDP of the Basque country – a figure that has risen by 0.6 points in just one year – and represents 2.2% of Basque industrial employment, which “shows the shared drive of our companies to develop innovative technologies”. Another of the sector's strategic aspects is its strong globalisation, making it a driving force that sweeps the entire value chain towards internationalisation: Between them, members have 24 centres spread throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia, and they contribute to the most important international aircraft and engine programmes.

Development of HEGAN's members

In 2015, the global turnover of HEGAN's members grew by 10.3% compared to the previous year for their 141 production centres across the globe, reaching a total figure of 1,935 million euros. By subsectors, Aerostructures generated a turnover of 1,029 million (53.2%); Engines, 763 million (39.4%); Systems and Equipment, 97 million (5%); and Space, 46 million (2.4%).

For the third consecutive year, exports surpassed the 1,000 million euro mark, reaching a figure of 1,226 million euros and representing 65% of total revenue. Germany is the main destination of Basque aerospace exports, at 300 million euros; followed by the United Kingdom, at 291 million; and the United States, at 198 million. The recovery of sales for HEGAN companies in France has placed this country in fourth position, meaning that the Basque cluster has improved its position in this market, which is both a strategic and natural destination for its products.

Being largely dependent on the development stage of the programmes in which the members take part, R&D investment has held its own compared to the previous year, reaching 162.5 million euros and a reinvestment of 8.4% of turnover. The high level of self-financing conducted by our companies amounts to 88% of total investment in R&D, with 10.5% of personnel (1,294 people) dedicated to R&D activities.

Employment dropped by 0.8% during the year, primarily due to an 8.8% decrease in jobs overseas on account of the completion of certain Aeronautics programmes that have reached the end of their useful life and the delay in rolling out production for the new replacement versions.

Challenges and responses based on cooperation

Within this setting, the Basque aerospace industry is well-placed but still needs to plan for the future in order to remain competitive and ensure the long-term success of its companies. The main challenges include the continuous evolution of the sector's technological requirements, growing pressure on the cost of supplies to produce cheaper aircraft, and growing competition from new countries that have begun to offer their products within the sector and are backed by the purchasing capacity of their domestic companies and governments. (China, India, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, etc.)

As a result, we must seek to maintain the leadership of Tier-1 companies in technology and innovation and develop all the links in the value chain, so that all agents contribute value to each of the aircraft value chains at both local and international level. The sector also needs to have the specific financial resources to be able to launch of new programmes. Another issue to be addressed is the development of understandings with labour representatives in order to build a competitive sector with the cooperation of all involved, and to be able to continue to diversify the portfolios of companies, with their entry in new aeronautical markets and programmes, by taking advantage of the externalisation of the work of large manufacturers.

Since late 2015, the HEGAN Cluster Association has been working on a process of Strategic Reflection. This has led to setting competitiveness as a priority objective for the period 2017-2020, to be achieved through greater and better productivity. Therefore, HEGAN's key actions over the coming years will be focused on technological and business innovation, internationalisation and commercial measures to detect new market opportunities; its work as focus point for capturing reliable information related to competitiveness and making timely strategic decisions; training, to create and develop qualified professionals; and the Cluster's capacity for influence and projection. In addition, it firmly believes in the need to continue strengthening the value chain, breaking the established model of client-supplier and turning them into “strategic partners” for a competitive chain at both the local and global levels.

Through HEGAN, the Basque aerospace sector analyses the forecasted increase in ramp-ups to detect hidden opportunities for SMEs in as yet unassigned work packages, as well as participating in three programmes funded by the Ministry of Industry: additive manufacturing for the aeronautics sector (AdAero), special Aeronautics processes (EspAero) and superficial quality control of chrome parts (Qualicrom). We should also highlight the HEGAN Cluster's support of the CFAA (Aeronautics Advanced Manufacturing Centre), as well as the incorporation of the Basque Ecodesign Center, for promoting ecodesign within the sector, and participation in working groups to support the Steering Committee of the Basque Government's Basque Industry 4.0 programme.


The HEGAN Cluster Association comprises 47 entities: Aernnova, ITP and SENER as founding members, and the companies and corporate groups Aciturri, Aeromec, Aerospace Engineering Group, Aibe, Alestis, Alfa Precision Casting, Altran, Aratz, Astorkia, Ayzar, Batz Aerospace, Bost, Burdinberri, Danobat Group, DMP, Doilan, DYFA, Ekin, Electrohilo, EYHER, Grupo TTT, Hauck Heat Treatment, Industrias Galindo, Korta Group, LTK Grupo, Matrici, Mesima, Metraltec, Metrología Sariki, Nivac, Novalti, Nuter, Orbital Aerospace, Siegel, Sisteplant, Tecnasa and WEC; as well as the technological organisations CTA, Tecnalia and IK4; and the universities of Deusto, Mondragón, the Basque Country and Tecnun.

Press release issued by Hegan - Basque Aerospace Cluster on May 23, 2016


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