Civil Aerospace Industry in France

An Expert's View about Aerospace in France

Last updated: 4 Mar 2011


The overall health of the French civil aviation industry was far more stable than originally feared for 2009. The industry reported revenue at EUR 35.8 billion (-2.2%). Best prospects for American aerospace firms in this market continue to be associated with the manufacturing of new aircraft, notably, the Airbus A350, the A380 and Airbus Military Company’s A400M (to a lesser degree as it is a European military program). Many OEM and equipment manufacturers have adopted a “U.S. dollar” strategy on existing and new programs to take advantage of the cost savings offered by the exchange rate. Six manufacturers account for the majority of the French market: Airbus (large commercial aircraft), Eurocopter (light-to-heavy helicopters), Dassault Falcon Jet (high-end business jets), ATR (passenger and cargo turboprop aircraft for regional transport), Daher-Socata (light aircraft and business turboprops), and GECI Aviation (formerly Reims Aviation Industries). With the exception of GECI Aviation and Daher-Socata, these manufacturers are owned in part or entirely by the same parent company, EADS (European Aerospace Defense & Space). Created in 2000, this consortium dominates the civil aviation market.


France’s aerospace industry manufacturers derive two thirds of their revenues from civilian sector programs, many of which are destined for export. This large export market is due to the sustained interest in Dassault Falcon Jet, Eurocopter and Airbus aircraft, all of which have products that now successfully have captured global market share. 2010 will continue to present challenges to EADS/Airbus, as the company tries to ramp A380 deliveries up to 20 aircraft for 2010, up from 10 in 2009. It will also be a decisive year for the A350, as production for some of its components will be launched, for first aircraft deliveries in 2013.


Market Overview

France is the world’s sixth largest industrialized economy. Its annual GDP is about one-fifth that of the United States’, at approximately USD 2.5 trillion. France is a member of the G-8, the European Union, NATO, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). France and the U.S. are long-standing, close allies. Despite occasional differences of views, the U.S. and France work together on a broad range of trade, security and geopolitical issues. France has substantial agricultural resources, a large industrial base, and a highly skilled work force. A dynamic services sector accounts for an increasingly large share of economic activity and is responsible for nearly all job creation in recent years.


France is the second-largest trading nation in Western Europe after Germany. France ran a record setting USD 79 billion deficit in calendar year 2008. Total trade for 2008 amounted to USD 1,249.8 billion, 75.0% of which was with EU-24 countries Trade and investment between the U.S. and France are strong. On average, over USD 1 billion in commercial transactions take place between France and the U.S. every day, with the U.S. being France's sixth-ranked supplier and its sixth-largest customer. France ranks as the United States' eighth trading partner for total goods (imports and exports). Of the top fifteen exports between France and the U.S., nine are reciprocal. In the aviation industry, France and the United States are both market leaders and competitors.


By Cara Boulesteix


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Posted: 23 August 2010, last updated 4 March 2011

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