On the occasion of World Creativity and Innovation Day, we’re highlighting Blue Space - a framework introduced in 2018 at Airbus Helicopters’ Marignane site. This initiative aims to integrate ideas from colleagues working on the shopfloor into the design and assembly of our helicopters on the Final Assembly Line, where all components are assembled and the rotorcraft is completed. 

Blue Space provides an agile solution that harnesses the creativity of employees who have extensive knowledge and experience of building helicopters every day. By fostering engagement and continuous improvement of our helicopters, the initiative has already led to many product enhancements.

world creativity innovationday


Designed to improve both working conditions and products, Blue Space can be described as a real-time laboratory of ideas. “Blue Space is all about listening to blue collar workers’ ideas and putting their creativity into practice”, Martial Petit,  Blue Space creator and Head of IdeaLab at Airbus Helicopters, explains. With clear steps and a streamlined roadmap, Petit’s colleagues, also known as the Blue Spacers, are here to guide the operational community from idea collection to industrialisation. 

An inclusive framework, Blue Space was thought out as a dedicated space for employees working in production, where everyone can contribute to the journey from creative ideas to innovations. Blue Space mobilises everyone’s ability to make a positive impact in their working environment. Petit says: “To be creative, you have to free your own mind and forget about constraints; this is an empowerment process. It’s important that we all want and believe that we can make a change in the workplace, and this is what leads to innovation.”

Towards an international initiative

Collective intelligence as well as trial and error are essential to this process. Petit says: “Once we reach an agreement about the original suggestion a colleague has made, we create a first prototype and replicate it with slight changes until we are able to come up with an idea that, once industrialised, will be right the first time”. To reach this final step, Petit and his team can rely on 3D printing. In addition to allowing faster production of parts, this is also an essential tool in ensuring that the most agile solutions are applied and integrated into the design and assembly process.  

After four years of collaborative work and ideas, Blue Space has already led to positive results. For instance, by producing mock helicopter parts whose design can be quickly modified before launching production of the real rotorcraft component, the Blue Spacers were able to better support the supply chain as well as reduce the number of test flights required to evaluate the performance of specific helicopter features. Consequently, the initiative is set to be further extended to other Airbus Helicopters sites in Europe and beyond. This will be key to sharing best practices across operational teams and enable the rest of the community to benefit from the collective knowledge that Blue Space has already facilitated in Marignane.

world creativity innovationday

An intrapreneurial mindset

As it continues to evolve within Airbus Helicopters, Blue Space has grown to become impossible to miss at the H160 Final Assembly Line. With a greater level of autonomy and a problem-solving philosophy, the Blue Space team embodies intrapreneurship, bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to the company and its existing ways of working. Petit adds: “The benefit of being an intrapreneur is to go beyond silos and complex processes. It allows us to be agile. Agility through ideas is actually one of the slogans of Blue Space and only intrapreneurship can make this possible.” 

From adding value to the production process, to recognising workshop employees’ essential contributions, Blue Space represents an end-to-end enhancement. The initiative also shows major signs of success in improving the working conditions of employees on the shopfloor. Petit explains: “This is a very gratifying adventure: through Blue Space, we are now able to make our colleagues’ ideas a reality. With 3D printing, everyone can witness their project coming to life firsthand and realise that they play an important part in ensuring that our helicopters have an exceptional level of performance in operation.”