When many people think of aerospace manufacturing, their first thoughts are frequently of Boeing and Airbus, and either U.S.-based or European production. However, it's far more appropriate to look to another North American nation: Mexico. Over the past decades, Mexico has become a thriving center for manufacturers in the aerospace industry, especially those interested in offshoring in Mexico. With the help of shelter companies, many aviation enterprises have discovered the advantages to be had by moving production and distribution to Mexico.
Skilled workforce driving the demand
An infographic released by the industry magazine Aerospace Manufacturing and Design showcases much of the progress made in the aerospace sector in Mexico over the past several years. While the predominant area of expertise in Mexico is manufacturing of airplanes and aviation equipment - comprising roughly 80 percent of corporate activities in the country - there is also demand for design and engineering capabilities. About 10 percent of corporate functions are aimed at delivering these highly technical aspects, and another 11 percent of overall activities are dedication to maintenance, repair and operations (MRO).
In 2006, the number of aerospace companies established in Mexico hovered just over 60 firms. However, during the course of the next seven years, that figure skyrocketed to nearly 300. Success hasn't been centralized in just one region in Mexico; instead, aerospace firms have populated Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Queretaro, according to the AMD infographic.
Regional MRO enterprise adds to Mexico's prestige
In fact, QET Tech Aerospace, which operates out of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, recently ended 2013 by receiving the first airplane to enter its new hangar. The firm specializes in airplane maintenance, repair and recycling and on Dec. 31 officially began operations. The hangar was built with the financial support of the state government, which injected 20 million pesos - more than $1.5 million - into the project. The facility anticipates hiring more than 500 specialized technicians to operate the hangar. Secretary of Economy Moises Gomez Reyna explained the regional government's investment was part of the strategy to develop the aerospace industry in Sonora which has gained a lot of momentum during the current administration, and is on the way to leading the rest of the states in the country.
"The timing was great; we are just putting the final touches to the hangar and we immediately have to refocus on our new core business," explained Mike Dornenburg, vice president of operations for QET Tech Aerospace. "We are very excited by all the opportunities presenting themselves and I am [proud] to say; the hangar is open for business."
Julio Cesar Alvarez, company CEO, indicated later in 2014, there will be a more formal opening ceremony, which will likely see political and industry officials on the guest list.
Meanwhile, the aerospace sector is poised for continued growth. In fact, the industry has experienced nearly 20 percent growth during the past 7 years, and Mexico has taken over as the 6th largest supplier of aeronautical equipment and components to the U.S. With a workforce 34,000 strong, the aerospace industry will likely maintain its upward trajectory.