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From A-Z, the secrets of Tunisia's rapid rise in aerospace

Posted 23 December 2019 · Add Comment

Over the past decade Tunisia has continued to build a solid, recognised and sustainable aeronautical industry and the leaders of the Tunisian Aeronautics and Space Industries Group – GITAS – have been explaining some of what’s behind the success story.

President, Thierry Haure-Mirande, and general secretary, Wassim Srarfi, said the sector is now a vital part of the country’s economy. It includes more than 80 companies (90% of which are offshore); exports worth around €480 million ($525m) in 2018; and is currently responsible for more than 17,000 direct jobs.
Large international companies and groups have a presence including Altran, Hutchinson, Latécoère, Paradigm, Precision, Sabena Technics and Stelia Aerospace, along with several companies in the Safran Group.
These companies cover many aerospace areas including aeronautical composites; aircraft storage and dismantling; interior design; technical textiles; parts; and infrastructure manufacturing – along with general and specialist maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
The aerospace industry in Tunisia is relatively young with the arrival of the first companies in 1998. However, it is now in a ‘full growth phase’, exemplified by companies like Zodiac Aerospace (Safran Seats, Safran Cabin and Safran Aerosystems) that began operations in Tunisia in 2004 with around 40 employees. Today, more than 3,500 people work in the manufacture of aircraft galleys, seats, baggage containers, electronic cards, 3D wiring and electrical cabinets.
According to a recent report in London’s Financial Times, Tunis is the most attractive site in world aerospace in terms of operating costs compared to six other competing sites: Bangalore (India); Beijing (China); Brasov (Romania); Casablanca (Morocco); Chihuahua (Mexico); and Plovdiv (Bulgaria).
Today, Tunisia is able to carry out the various stages in the industrial cycle, including research and development (R&D), detailed design, manufacture and final assembly – and all within the domestic industrial sector.
GITAS is also working to promote the country’s aerospace credentials throughout the global industry by encouraging new companies – and investors – to exploit Tunisia’s growing pool of expertise.
Tunisia ensures that it adheres to all global compliance standards for its engineering and design, including electrical assembly, sheet metal working, wiring, assembly of aerostructures, surface treatments, embedded software for computers and plastics.
GITAS believes its main strength is its aerospace sector’s ability to manage products in their entirety, from conception to delivery, guaranteeing both build quality and performance.
“Tunisia is one of the most effective value-chains in the aerospace world since we can produce a product from A to Z,” said Haure-Mirande.
Tunisia is conducting a series of educational programmes aimed at ensuring technological development and enhanced competitiveness as it competes with other locations and countries in Europe and Africa.
“We cannot rely solely on our competitive costs… we must be equally efficient and competitive,” said Srarfi. For example, he explained, the sector is getting into augmented reality, robotics, artificial intelligence, predictive maintenance and media digitisation, and all these areas will enhance industrial and productivity performance and also generate new partnerships that will increase skills for operators, technicians and engineers.
And, as the Tunisian working population is relatively young, it is easier to integrate new technologies in training.
 

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