The Mexican aerospace industry has received growing attention from the federal and state governments, manufacturers, the media, consultancy firms doing special reports, and the academic sector, among others. In 2004, Mexico had around 100 aerospace firmsi , but for 2010 more than 200 firms have been employing a work force up to 27,000 people. Large international manufacturers have established market presence in Mexico and their operations have encouraged other firms to consider the country as their new location.
Some of the most important worldwide aerospace firms in Mexico include: Bombardier, Safran Group, Gulfstream, Goodrich, BAE Systems, EATON, Honeywell, GE and Raytheon. All are leading the global aerospace industry trends. Moreover, diverse industrial groups have selected Mexico as a gateway to improve their competitiveness and to take advantage of an 25% annual growth of the industry.ii As Mexico continues to exhibit strong growth and development toward becoming a regional aerospace manufacturing hub, it will need to address certain challenges that offset the benefit of competitive labor rates and proximity to the United States. Currently,the industry’s greatest challenge is a reduced local supply chain, which also represents market opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to provide local OEM’s with more sophisticated products and services.
During the past fifty years, Mexico has developed a strong automotive industry, as well as a significant electronic sector, and both industries have built an industrial supplier base to backup the recently takeoff of the aerospace industry. The Calderon administration has been promoting the aerospace industry particularly in the last five or six years, following on actions begun during the administration of former President Fox (2000-2006)iii to facilitate growth of the industry, even though several well-known firms initiated their market presence a long time ago.
The aerospace industry has several differences with respect to the automotive and electronics industries, such as a complex high level of manufacturing processes, specialized raw materials, no mass production, and the highest quality standards. Over the past three decades, Mexico has proven to be competitive with in-bond operations using labor intensive work, manual activities and intensive assemblies necessary to complement other manufacturing, which frequently crosses the U.S. border multiple times before becoming a finished product. The goal for Mexico’s aerospce industry is to reach a higher level of manufacturing and engineering in country.
In Mexico, the aerospace industry has been growing due to a combination of factors, such as the strong global competition, increased aircraft deliveries, applying flexible manufacturing schemes, reducing logistics costs, finding new suppliers that will bring new advantages to OEM’s, create new solutions to problems (as in the case of bio-fuels), and move on the road of innovation and technical progress. Internally, Mexico has a robust and young labor force, an excellent location, available space to expand, government incentives, and economic stability, together with common business objectives with its main business partner, the United States.