2016 Flashback – 2017 Preview by the Chairman

2016 has been a good year for many of our members. The order portfolios for companies active in Aircraft Manufacturing, Aircraft Maintenance, and Airport Development & Infrastructure were well filled. The economic recovery which started two years ago has led to an encouraging increase in revenues as well as profits for all three segments. Hence, the upscaling of production capacity will remain a focal point for many companies throughout 2017 active in aircraft (component) manufacturing and maintenance. The airport development segment is experiencing significant growth with the Asia-Pacific area predicted to grow more than 60% up to 2031. Large investments are being made in this region by local governments to either build green-field airports, refurbish existing airports and convert military airports to commercial airports offering opportunities for our members.

There remain however a number of challenges and concerns that were voiced by our members during the various regional lunch meetings held at member locations throughout 2016. In the years past, aircraft manufacturers like Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and Lockheed Martin have successfully introduced new platforms which are now in full production. There are currently hardly any new civil and / or military programs under development leading to consolidation in the market for design & development related engineering companies. This strengthens the concern felt in the Netherlands that knowhow and expertise in this part of our value chain keeps diminishing. Parallel to this, one can identify a race-to-the-bottom felt by many companies involved in the manufacturing and overhaul & repair of aircraft; intensified competition from low-wage countries forces players to further reduce costs. Automation can be the answer but requires a different skill set for the workers involved. Finding and retaining qualified personnel is one of the main challenges for many of our members. Last but not least, adhering to increasingly stringent product- & process qualifications is seen by many of our members as a cost-of-doing-business and no longer as a differentiating factor. All in all, this influences the competitiveness of our members active in an industry characterized by an international customer base and supply chain.

The NAG tries to assist you to the best of its abilities. At the various lunch meetings you have indicated what type of support you expect to receive from a trade association such as the NAG. On the basis of your responses and recommendations the NAG will in 2017 continue to organize international networking events and trade missions, and to intensify her initiatives related to increasing the knowledgebase of her members by means of organizing more theme-sessions. Furthermore, the NAG will continue to organize cross-sectoral events such as “Aerospace meets Oil & Gas” (end 2016), and “Aerospace meets Health” (early 2017). The NAG itself recently became a member of the EACP (European Aerospace Cluster Partnership) which offers you the possibility to join activities organized by aerospace related associations elsewhere in Europe from next year onwards.

The aerospace and airport infrastructure industry remains subject to change, and the NAG realizes that she has to prove its reason-of-existence to you as a member year after year. Being a member of a trade association is an investment which needs to show a valuable return, be it in new business opportunities, business contacts, and / or enhanced knowledge and experience.

The Board, management and members of the NAG team will try their best to meet your expectations, and where possible to exceed them in 2017. We wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2017.