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International News From the Field: Europe

Europe's economy has been marked by a mixed performance across various industries in 2023. While aerospace and automotive show growth in volume and investments, others face challenges and uncertainties. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
Jun 21, 2023

The German machinery and equipment manufacturing industry has recorded a weak start to spring 2023. Order books in the mechanical and plant engineering sector experienced a decline of 6% in March followed by a significant drop of 20% in April compared to the previous year. Both domestic and foreign orders were affected, reflecting a deteriorating mood in the economy. Global economic burdens and incoming orders are some of the causes, and very little improvement is expected in the short term.

In contrast, the Swiss industry witnessed a rise in sales of 4.9% during the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year, but new orders declined by 4.8% in the same timeframe. The overall capacity utilization remains high, indicating continued strength in the industry.

Europe's automotive suppliers keep showing increased optimism about the future. Despite the low-profit margins reported, most companies anticipate market growth, indicating an overall positive outlook for the sector.

The aerospace sector is also showing positive signs of recovery. In June, the 54th Paris Air Show in Le Bourget presented an optimistic view and positive mood. The global airline industry is expected to return to profitability by the end of 2023 with a projected profit of $9.8 billion. This forecast is more than double the previous estimate and indicates growth and recovery in the sector.

Several significant projects have been underway in Europe, showcasing investments and advancements in various industries:

  • Britten-Norman announced plans to expand its U.K. manufacturing facility. The move is a major change for the British SME, which has been manufacturing its aircraft in Eastern Europe since the late 1960s. The bulk of the investment aims to develop new jigs and tooling to create two additional production lines, modernize production, and decarbonize the site with new sustainable energy initiatives.

  • In April 2023, Britten-Norman signed a heads of terms agreement with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) for a merger. A consortium of CAeS investors comprising HydrogenOne, Safran Corporate Ventures, and the UAE-based investment firm Strategic Development Fund (SDF) will invest up to $13 million in the new company, including up to $6.5 million from HydrogenOne once the merger is finalized.

  • Rolls-Royce’s newest production facility installation in Le Haillan near Bordeaux, France, is progressing. The site near Dassault’s final assembly line in Merignac will support the flight test and production activities for Dassault’s Falcon 10X. The facility will house offices, a workshop facility, and a warehouse and will be home to approximately 30 employees.

  • VoltAero’s funding for developing its Cassio 330 electric-hybrid aircraft increased with a $6 million grant from the French government via BPI France. The Cassio aircraft will be assembled in a purpose-built facility at the industrial site at Rochefort airport in Charente-Maritime in France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Total investment is around $4 million.

  • Deutsche Aircraft began construction on a final assembly facility for its D328eco turboprop. The 62,000-square-meter facility will have a production capacity of 48 D328eco aircraft per year. The facility is designed to be climate-friendly, with a carbon dioxide-neutral energy concept and extensive use of renewable energy. Moreover, production at the assembly line will be paperless throughout all processes with automated and driverless transport systems, automated parts and tool storage, and 3D model-supported production, with the possibility of augmented reality.

  • As part of its $90 million investment package, GKN Aerospace from Redditch, U.K., has opened a Global Technology Center (GTC) in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands, to provide an innovation ecosystem for composites research and to accelerate the development of the latest sustainable aviation technologies in the region. The center focuses on lightweight thermoplastic composites and advanced electrical cabling systems for next-generation aircraft.

  • Co-owners Stellantis, Total Energies, and Mercedes-Benz are celebrating the opening of Automotive Cells Company’s (ACC) new battery gigafactory in Billy-Berclau Douvrin, France, the first of three planned in Europe. With an initial production line capacity of 13 gigawatt-hours, rising to 40 GWh by 2030, the facility will deliver high-performance lithium-ion batteries with a minimal carbon dioxide footprint. The first of the site’s three European production units will be operational before the end of 2023.

  • The new Additive Manufacturing Center of the Technical University Darmstadt has been launched. The project had a total budget of $19 million after receiving a grant of $10 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The building offers offices for cooperative work, seminar rooms for training and further education, and laboratory and test areas for powder production, additive manufacturing, post-processing, material, and component analysis.

  • Intel has requested additional subsidies to build its new $18.5 billion plant in Magdeburg, Germany. Plans are to install two megafactories, known as megafabs, which will create 10,000 jobs. The world’s third-largest chip manufacturer is expected to receive $7.5 billion in state aid and is now asking an additional $11 billion to conclude construction, citing rising energy and construction costs. Intel’s semiconductor factory is the largest foreign investment in Germany’s post-war history, deemed crucial to the strategic plans of the European Union, which has declared the expansion of European chip-making capacities a geostrategic necessity.

For more information, please contact Conchi Aranguren at caranguren@AMTonline.org.

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Conchi Aranguren
AMT's Representative for Europe
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