Mexico’s aerospace sector attracted $1.25 billion in investments in 2010, 25% more than in 2009. The city of Querétaro has become the hub of Mexico’s fledgling aerospace sector, with several companies choosing it as an ideal manufacturing location. Opening a new section of the Bombardier plant in the city of Quéretaro, President Felipe Calderón highlighted the sector’s rapid growth in Mexico; the 200 firms in the sector currently provide 30,000 jobs. The federal government believes that Mexico can become a producer of planes for international markets within the next 5 to 10 years.
Canada-based Bombardier supplies 38% of the world’s business airplane market, and predicts a significant growth in the sector over the next few years. The Bombardier plant in Querétaro will make the fuselage and electrical systems for the new Learjet 85 business aircraft. Bombardier has committed $450 million over the next seven years to expand the plant.
Another firm starting production in Querétaro is Eurocopter, a leading manufacturer of helicopters. It is investing $550 million to build a factory to make components for the aeronautical industry, primarily for export. The components include door structures and tail sections for Airbus and other planes.
A third major company, General Electric, the US-based multinational, has opened its own new advanced engineering center in the city of Querétaro. The $20 million, 8,000-square-meter center is part of a facility making parts for the Airbus 380 airliner. It will specialize in research and design of airplane turbines and power systems. The center, the only one of its kind in Latin America, will employ more than 1,300 highly qualified engineers. It is General Electric’s largest engineering center outside the USA.
Supporting the growth in aerospace industries is Querétaro International Airport, which has drastically reduced its non-renewable energy consumption (and energy costs) by becoming almost totally self-sufficient, relying on solar power. The airport’s solar panels have an installed capacity of 924KW, allowing the airport to profit from feeding surplus electricity back into Mexico’s national electricity grid.
Why has Querétaro become the center of Mexico’s fledgling aeronautical industry?
- City is centrally located with excellent transport links via highways and railways to both coasts and to several US border crossings.
- It is relatively close to Mexico City, the seat of political power and location of almost all federal offices
- It has a large, well-educated, easily trained and skilled workforce
- The city currently has fewer security concerns than possible rivals such as Monterrey in Nuevo León.
- Mexico has a highly competitive business environment with numerous major international manufacturing facilities for other kinds of vehicles.
The changes reflect the trend in Mexico’s manufacturing sector away from high volume, low-cost manufacturing processes towards higher value, high tech industries.