Spain's aviation industry dates back to 1923 when José Ortiz-Echagüe founded Construcciones Aeronáuticas, SA. The company, known by the initials CASA, went on to design and manufacture aircraft and become a pioneering presence in European aviation cooperation. Having worked successfully on earlier Airbus projects, CASA became part of Airbus in 2000.
Today, Airbus is the leader of Spain’s aerospace and defence sector, generating 56.4% of the nation’s revenues in these areas through the work of some 12,700 employees. Production facilities for Airbus commercial aircraft, military aircraft, helicopters, and space activities can be found within the country
Airbus operations in Spain, employing approximately 3,400 employees, produces the horizontal stabilisers for the entire range of Airbus commercial aircraft at its facilities in Getafe, Illescas, and Puerto Real, among other components.
Getafe (in the Madrid region) is responsible for designing, engineering and manufacturing of components for all Airbus aircraft. They include the horizontal stabiliser for the double-deck A380 jetliner; the assembly and testing of the horizontal stabilisers for the wide-body A350 and A330, as well as for the single-aisle A320 Family. This site also is responsible for producing the two sections that comprise the A380’s tail cone, as well as the A350’s tail cone (Section 19).
The site of Illescas (Toledo) has maintained Airbus at the forefront of aviation composites, contributing to the success of the different Airbus programmes. Illescas is responsible for manufacturing the components of the empennage and aft fuselage for all Airbus aircraft versions and for the Eurofighter combat aircraft. The A350 wing’s lower cover – the largest carbon fibre single component on this aircraft – also is produced at the site.
Final assembly and functional testing of the A380 horizontal stabiliser is completed at Puerto Real (in the Cádiz region); the plant also produces the horizontal stabiliser’s lateral boxes for the A350 and A330 families, and elevators for the A320 family, among components.
Airbus Helicopters employs more than 500 people in the cities of Albacete and Getafe, where rotary-wing aircraft are designed, developed and integrated, as well as flight tested and certified.
Final assembly of Tiger attack helicopter and multi-role NH90 military rotorcraft are performed in Spain, along with sub-assembly production for tailbooms on the Tiger and H135 light utility helicopter, and the NH90’s forward fuselage. In addition, the country is home to extensive fleet support facilities that cater to both civil and military helicopters.
For defence-related business, Airbus is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of military transport aircraft and plays a leading role in the twin-jet Eurofighter combat aircraft.
The San Pablo and Tablada sites, located in the Seville area, serve as the epicentre of Airbus’ military transport business – with final assembly lines for the four-engine turboprop-powered A400M airlifter and twin-turboprop C295 and CN235 transports. Seville also is home to the International Training Centre and Delivery Centre for Airbus military aircraft
Getafe is the home to the A330 MRTT conversion centre, where the refuelling systems and military avionics are installed on the Airbus’ A330 jetliners in their transformation to the Multi Role Tanker Transport version. Airbus undertakes parts manufacturing and the assembly for the Eurofighter also at the Getafe site.
The Barajas and Tres Cantos sites in the Madrid region carry out work for most European space programmes, such as: the Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 commercial launch vehicles, the Copernicus Earth observation platforms and the Galileo satellite navigation constellation. Barajas also serves as the prime contractor location for PAZ and Ingenio (the Spanish Earth observation satellites), and the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite) spacecraft, which will search for exoplanets by performing ultra-high precision photometry on bright stars already known to host planets.
Airbus’ activities in Spain also include a role in Curiosity – the highly successful Mars rover developed by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which landed on the “Red Planet” in 2012.
Airbus is an important driver for the economic development of Spain’s supply chain, with purchases amounting to some €1.800 billion in 2016 from 2,000 domestic suppliers.
Facilities operated by Airbus in the Seville region serve as a cornerstone for the Andalusian Aerospace Cluster, which brings the company together with the region’s aerospace stakeholders and players, including Tier 1 suppliers, SMEs (small and medium enterprises), universities, technology centres, entrepreneurial organisations, unions and the regional government.
Airbus makes a significant investment effort in research and development. During 2016, this was worth €410.7 million, representing 3% of the total expenditure in research across all sectors in Spain. This investment also represented 80% of the research and development efforts by aerospace manufacturers based in the country.
Airbus’ forward-looking commitment has enabled Spain to host a centre of excellence for composites, widely used in carbon fibre aerostructures and components. Other innovative developments include the A330 MRTT’s automatic air-to-air refuelling system, and the use of drones and augmented reality (DAR) for aircraft maintenance. In recent years, Airbus also has been the company based in Spain with the most filings for European patents.
Airbus Spain carries out actions as a part of its corporate social responsibility such as helping students find their career path in aerospace through the 'Airbus Flying Challenge' programme. The company also values its local relationships around their plants and collaborates with associations based near its facilities through the “Rincón Solidario” initiative. Airbus is a strong advocate for an inclusive workplace, and has a specific programme for supporting disabled in the workplace and helping family members of its employees with disabilities.