The aeronautics and space sector in New Aquitaine is a major part of the region’s economy. At the end of 2016, 758 companies are located in the region for a total of 44,500 employees. It is now a question for large groups to increase the number of orders and to develop electric energy. Luxury tourism is also doing well, with the creation of collaborative online platforms or the manufacture of private jets.
An online collaborative platform for private aircraft rentals
Founded in 2015 by 3 partners, Air Business is a collaborative private aircraft rental network. The platform connects the players in the sector: pilots, aircraft owners, airlines and club members. The contact stems from a cruel lack of job opportunities in this sector. About 40,000 French pilots are on the market, 25% of whom are professionals, and there are reportedly more than 1,500 private aircraft flying only a few hours a year (300 flying hours per year are required to make the aircraft profitable). France has 350 airports, of which only 20 are used by major airlines. There is therefore a high-potential market developed by Air Business.
This is the case of Niort airport (the capital of the department of Les Deux-Sèvres in New Aquitaine) which has been selected to host business leaders and executives. Niort is the third largest financial centre in France thanks to its mutuals, Maif has also joined the Air Affaires club. Almost fifty companies have joined the club in France.
The Falcon 6X jet will be assembled in Mérignac
Following the shutdown of the Falcon 5X business aircraft program due to engine problems, the Falcon 6X is the new project of aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation. The price of the new private aircraft will be around 38.5 million euros and will offer the most spacious cabin (long range segment) with 1.98 m high, 2.58 m wide and 12.3 m long. The Falcon 6X is expected to have a range of 10,186 km.
New Aquitaine will produce a large portion of the Falcon X at three main sites:
Mérignac (final assembly, ground and in-flight focus, delivery);
Martignas-sur-Jalles (industrialization and wing manufacturing);
Biarritz (industrialization and manufacture of composite elements and assembly of fuselage sections).
In addition, the French army has just announced an order estimated at 2 billion euros for the purchase of Rafale F4. Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly was present on Monday, January 14, 2019 at Dassault Aviation’s plant in Mérignac, employing 1,400 people. It is estimated that this order generates between 2,500 and 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.
VoltAero develops its hybrid passenger aircraft
After working on the development of the e-Fan, Airbus’ electric aircraft, Jean Botti is carrying out a new project: the Cassio 1, a 9-seat aircraft manufactured by VoltAero. The hybrid electric propulsion is based on 5 electric motors with a power of 220 kW and a thermal engine with a power of 150 kW. Jean Botti relies on the certified cell “First, increasing autonomy and fuel economy. Second, improving security through redundancy. Finally, the reduction of noise pollution on landing and take-off.”
The project is supported by the New Aquitaine region to the tune of 1.8 million euros (a grant of 1.3 million euros and a loan of 500,000 euros). Alain Rousset, president of the New Aquitaine region shares his ambition “I believe in hybrids in aviation, even if it means taking risks. There was no question of divesting itself of the know-how born around the E-Fan project, which had been abandoned for the wrong reasons. Let’s not forget that this can mean 500 jobs in ten years.”
Oenology makes helicopters and private jets fly
The large castles and wineries are attracting more and more tourists or lovers of tastings. Last year, Bordeaux-Mérignac airport welcomed more than 300 private jets per month. PrivateFly offers many private jet flights and the organization of helicopter visits to vineyards. According to Charlotte de Beaumont, PrivateFly’s marketing manager, “to experience a unique journey through the Bordeaux vineyards, taking the helicopter is the best option”. The grandiose effect is guaranteed with a magnificent view of the wineries, and the opportunity to visit 3 or 4 estates in one day. Count 7,700 euros to one-way Paris-Bordeaux aboard the 4-seater Citation Mustang and from 2000 euros for a one-way helicopter ride between the castles, the major hotels in the region and the airport.
Private aviation still has a bright future ahead of it in New Aquitaine. Our castles and beautiful places to visit attract wealthy tourists wishing a private visit with their head in the clouds. Once again, digital technology is disrupting the way we consume and travel through collaborative platforms on the web. Large aerospace companies are particularly active in the region and are pushing the economy upwards.
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