Interview: Daniel Parfait
How do you describe the quality of the workforce that is developing in Mexico?
DANIEL PARFAIT: The workforce is evolving and adapting to more demanding markets and newer technologies. The competitive advantage of a low-cost workforce is no longer sufficient, especially for countries like Mexico, which hopes to establish itself among the top-10 aerospace players worldwide. Both academic institutions and government support are crucial for fulfilling the ongoing needs of the industry, and workforce shortages are to be avoided. There should also be increased promotion of careers in aerospace.
Meanwhile, we have noticed a shift in the perception and reputation of Mexican personnel. Across the country there are now internationally recognised workforces, bringing in more business and activities, and improving the country’s image. The amount of foreign direct investment and the number of aerospace clusters in Mexico illustrates that the country continues to be a serious actor in the industry.
Where are the areas of growth in maintenance, repair and overhaul activities and related fields in the aerospace sector?
PARFAIT: Global aircraft usage is projected to expand exponentially. Accordingly, maintenance activities will also grow. With its beneficial geographic position, cumulated expertise and workforce, Mexico has significant and growing potential to become a regional centre for maintenance.
Another field in which Mexico can excel is interiors, which includes aircraft cabins, seats and aerosystems, and waste and water management systems. Mexico is already a leader in the production of harnesses and aircraft interiors, which may lead the country into design, automation and materials development. This is a strategic area due to high demand, as an aircraft must renew its interior several times in its lifetime. As with Industry 4.0, revolutionary processes are being regularly applied to the aerospace industry. The country should be prepared to establish and use these new technologies.
What opportunities are disruptive technologies bringing to the Mexican aerospace industry?
PARFAIT: First, it is important to bear in mind the extent of the worldwide aerospace market and Mexico’s stake in it. The total worldwide number of aircraft will double from 25,000 in 2019 to 50,000 in 2036, of which roughly 30,000 will be single-aisle aircraft. The increase in demand has driven the industry to use more efficient and sophisticated technology, and Mexico plays a significant role in producing supply for the rising need. For example, the composite fan of the LEAP engine is produced in Querétaro. The advanced technology allows these engines to be lighter, consume less fuel and expel fewer emissions. Disruptive technologies are an opportunity rather than a challenge.
To what extent can Mexico become a successful global leader in the aerospace industry?
PARFAIT: Large international groups believe in the country and see it as a strategic partner. Mexico is becoming increasingly attractive to these players. To become a global leader in the industry, it is important for Mexico to provide specialised services in specific production processes, like in maintenance or in other niche fields. The challenge of specialisation has to be backed by federal and local governments, large and small aerospace companies, and research and educational institutions. This will ultimately lead to increased productivity, exports and growth.
Moreover, growth of the aerospace industry would further develop the country’s supply chain. We are proud of the success of the aerospace industry, which comprises more than 300 companies. There is a bright future and endless possibilities ahead.