German aerospace companies predict growth as economic recovery looms

Aerospace is a key industry for Germany. German companies are involved in high-profile projects such as the Airbus A380 and a range of new versions of Eurocopter products. Around 70,000 people are employed in German aerospace and it also displays a heavy commitment to research and development, with around 17% of the industry's turnover being ploughed back into R&D last year.

Germany's varied and extensive aerospace industry has to be balanced against the ongoing German economic crisis, with high unemployment and most sectors beset with problems and looking to consolidate rather than expand.

This year, however, the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) predicted that German aerospace is entering recovery, with its €15.7 billion ($19.4 billion) turnover in 2003 set for further growth. At the recent Farnborough air show, the BDLI had a stand for the first time in 12 years, signifying its belief in the industry's imminent resurgence.

Germany is renowned for having a strong engineering sector and that is also true of its aerospace sector, employing many of the world's most capable engineers. Lufthansa Technik (LHT), based in Hamburg, is the world's largest maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider, for example.

However, intense competition in the MRO market, along with the troubled German economy, means that LHT announced plans in April to cut costs by shedding staff. This follows a hiring freeze in 2003, as well as outsourcing cutbacks.

As well as the larger players, there are many medium-sized companies such as AOA Apparatebau Gauting, which produces high-performance ventilation systems for Airbus and Eurofighter, and Diehl Avionik Systeme, which makes navigation computers for the same companies.

As Europe's largest aerospace company, EADS is the most influential in Germany, with 27 sites around the country.

It is involved in space programmes, military work and defence and security systems, as well as being the parent company of Airbus. Its recent interim results show a 66% increase in pre-tax profit, with the main growth coming from Airbus and its space division. Large military projects in Germany include the Eurofighter and the Tiger and NH90 helicopters.

Lufthansa, which has a fleet of around 250 aircraft, was also hit by the market downturn, losing €116 million in the first three months of 2004, although it recovered in the second quarter to post an interim profit of €33 million and a 17% increase in passenger traffic.



Central Europe, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark.


Around 82.4 million


German. English spoken widely.

Major cities:

Berlin (capital), Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Bonn. The industry is traditionally concentrated in the south of the country, with many jobs located in Bavaria and BadenWürttemberg.


Euro. $ 1 = approx. €0.8


Although gradually improving, Germany still has an unemployment rate of around 10% of the workforce, due to the underperforming economy. Germany has strict employment laws, so many organisations prefer to use contract staff rather than permanent.

What you need to work there:

EU nationals do not require a work permit to work in Germany.


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Source: Flight International