Mexico’s aerospace and aviation sector is cruising towards a strong performance in the turbulent 2009 market.

In October, Bombardier Mexico announced that it had been selected to assemble the Learjet 85. This was largely attributed to the fact that productivity in the company’s Mexican operation was one-quarter higher than that of the Canadian aircraft-maker’s sites in Belfast and Montreal.

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At the Mexico Summit Forum in Mexico City in October, Bombardier Mexico CEO Diaz Miron told attendees that the first carbon compound prototype will be built at the company’s Queretaro site, citing strong support from the federal and state governments. He estimated that in the next decade 11,500 executive aeroplanes and 12,400 commercial units will be assembled globally – which presents a huge opportunity for Mexico’s aviation industry.

On the up

In October, greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets recorded that the number of aerospace projects going into Mexico for the year to date was the same as the total number for 2008.

According to fDi Markets, 2007 was a peak year for the sector in Mexico in terms of the number of inbound projects, with 10 under way. Capital expenditure has risen since then, however, from just over $465m that year to $600m in 2008, and it is about to hit the ­billion-dollar mark for 2009 to date. More than 5000 new jobs have been created by new aerospace FDI projects in Mexico this year.

Growing centre

One state in particular, Chihuahua, is expected to see at least eight more aeronautics companies establish plants, with an investment of more than $170m, according the Ministry of Industrial Development. On its website, the ministry discloses that initially two companies from Canada and the US will start operating in 2010, investing a final total of $50m, although the names are being kept under wraps. The ministry also advertises that its aeronautics cluster has three out of five original equipment manufacturers operating in Mexico: Cessna Aircraft Company, Textron International and Hawker Beechcraft.

Among the recent projects tracked by fDi Markets is a $12m investment by French aerospace company Zodiac, which will create 300 jobs in Chihuahua. The investment will involve the construction of a new production plant for its aircraft passenger seat manufacturer Weber Aircraft and the expansion of its safety equipment plant in the state, which belongs to the company’s subsidiary Air Cruisers.

Cessna Aircraft, the subsidiary of Textron that manufactures business jets, utility turboprops and small single-engine planes, is to invest $21m in opening two plants in Chihuahua, creating 520 jobs. The plants will manufacture aluminium sheets, fuselages, carbon fibre wings, ventilation ducts and small parts for Cessna 350 and 400 aircrafts.

Meanwhile, aircraft components manufacturer TigHitco has invested $10m in opening a 3500-square-metre manufacturing plant in Chihuahua, creating 180 jobs. The plant will produce metal-mechanic supplies with thermal and special processing for Hawker Beechcraft, Boeing and Sikorsky aircraft assemblers. The number of people employed at the plant is expected to rise from 180 to 500 in the next five years.

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Aerospace investment projects into Mexico,
2005-2009
Source: fDi Markets