Andalusia, Spain's southernmost region is, with the Basque region in the north, a prominent example of how local politics can influence aerospace industry development.

The Andalusian government has recognised the potential of reviving a local industry based on Casa factories in Seville and Cadiz dating back to the 1920s and employing around 2,600 people.

Andalusia's minister for employment and technological development Jose Antonio Viera says: "We created the Andalucia Aerospacial Consortium to become a risk-sharing partner in the McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 programme in 1987." But the succession of relatively unsuccessful programmes, such as the MD11, Boeing 717 and Fairchild Dornier's scrapped 728 regional jet project, led to its liquidation in September 2002.

However, Viera says: "Airbus's decision to establish the A400M final assembly line in Seville has created many opportunities for local industry. We decided to capitalise on composite materials and metal-glueing specialist SACESA to bridge between multinational and local companies. To improve engineering capacity, we have created Emerge, in which SACESA also has a stake."

The Andalusian government and a group of local banks both hold around 40% of SACESA , with EADS Casa owning the remaining 20%. Viera says major projects such as the Airbus A380 belly fairing, largely sub-contracted to SACESA in a €400 million ($450 million) long-term contract with Airbus España, the Airbus A400M project and Gamesa's new Seville factory, are changing local industry. "The A380 and A400M programmes alone are producing direct investments of close to €500 million in the Seville area and creating about 10,000 direct and induced new jobs," adds Viera.

"We have created Aeropolis, Europe's largest aeronautical technology park, and have made available over €100 million of financial aid. We're also reaching agreements with local universities on professional education and R&D." Nearly half of Aeropolis's space has already been taken.

But not all the activity is in the Seville area. For example, the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technologies (INTA) has renewed the hangar and telemetry infrastructure of Europe's most important independent flight-testing centre at Granada airport. Originally created by Fokker to speed up the certification processes of its aircraft, it quickly became popular with other manufacturers such as Casa, Fairchild Dornier, Pilatus and Saab.

INTA's director of flight-testing services Luis Davila says: "Fokker discovered in 1970 that Granada has optimum conditions for flight testing. There is no other place in or near Europe with this combination of light winds, sun, low traffic and a long runway, making it ideal for all kinds of aircraft certification processes."

Source: Flight International