Written by: Mateo Rafael Tablado - Translated by: Rebecca Castrejon - Produced by: Taybele Piven
Interviewee: Serge Durand, CEO of Airbus Helicopters of Mexico
Since 2013, Airbus has increased its stake and growth in Mexico after opening their new manufacturing plant for the assembly and sub-assembly of aircrafts. As part of the first phase in their development strategy the company is moving forward with a serious commitment of supplying helicopters to various agencies of the Mexican government
Their objectives are clear, regardless of any benefits derived from the reforms that occurred in the country recently.
"Our challenge is to develop this industry in Mexico, reinforcing our commitment of a long-term investment by driving growth into this new plant," Durand said.
BRAL: Which automation advances have been implemented in the production of civil and military helicopters?
SD: "We have an automatic system called galvanization (coating with zinc) that protects the surface and is integrated into the assembly line of the aircraft door. We are increasing our automation in the production of airplanes by integrating new systems in each update until we can handle the whole manufacturing process automatically.”
After-sales services and aircraft maintenance are key elements during the selling process. Airbus has service centers located in International Airport facilities, such as the central airport in Mexico City, Queretaro, Ciudad del Carmen (Campeche) and Saltillo (Coahuila).
"Selling helicopters is fine, but the client must receive assistance after the sale for the helicopter to have a life up to 30 years. Airbus Helicopters of Mexico’s support and maintenance are key services to our business development strategy. Our number one priority is the satisfaction of our customers. The strong presence of Airbus Helicopters in 25 countries in the region helps us keep high levels of satisfaction."
BRAL: What are some of your expansion plans?
SD: "In Latin America, our key countries are Brazil and Mexico, where we have industrial plants. On the other hand, we have developed a support network around the countries we have presence in to ensure our aircraft services."
Security is one of the most important aspects in the aerospace industry, there are programs that verify if global standards are being follow, such as Nadcap, a system that detects areas of improvement in order to ensure flight safety and compliance with new requirements or updates, such as regulation AMS2750 related to thermal processes.
Falling short on these requirements risks both accidents and other companies’ ability to continue operations.
In regards to international norms, Airbus Helicopters works with Global Thermal Solutions in Mexico, as well as other local suppliers that are close to their manufacturing plants and have the availability and resources to update their requirements with information about new global aerospace standards for the annual production of these aircraft provisions.
"We have a policy called Global Supply Chain (GSC). We respect the Airbus group policies in general. The GSC policy is very demanding with suppliers in Mexico or anywhere in the world. Safety is a non-negotiable element," Durand said.
The company is focused on minimizing their environmental footprint, even in their new plant in Queretaro in which they generate electricity for their own use and for third parties.
The company operates a wastewater treatment plant that is used for irrigation. On environmental issues such as waste management, the company is subject to *REACH global regulations, a program created by the European community.
Additionally, they have created the quietest helicopters in an effort to minimize noise pollution, such as the EC130T2 Ecureuil, the only aircraft authorized to fly over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.
"Respect for the environment means less noise and less pollution from industrial products. The company policy is faithfully dedicated to respecting the environment," Durand said.
Airbus Helicopters of Mexico foresees a bright future in Latin America, due to the lack of aircrafts produced in the region against the continuous demand of the rest of Mexico and Latin America. The company offers a wide range of ambulance helicopters, specialty sector in which they are leaders in Europe and the United States, with an expected growth of $ 1,000 million mid-term. They also provide services to the oil and gas sector, which has expanded their operations in the Gulf of Mexico, among other associated services.
BRAL: What is the production goal in the Queretaro plant for 2015?
SD: "We have proven that this plant is international in quality and productivity. It will systematically increase the level of investment in the country, particularly in the Queretaro plant for this being our main site for industrial growth in the area," Durand said.