Aeronautics spreads its XXL wings in Nantes Saint-Nazaire

With the inauguration of a new shipping line to the USA, river barges, digital innovations and the increased workload at Airbus, the entire aeronautics sector has been thriving in Nantes Saint-Nazaire since the beginning of the year. As the Farnborough Business Expo runs from 16 to 22 July in the United Kingdom, let’s take a closer look at the aeronautics sector in Nantes Saint-Nazaire.

The first Airbus A320 aircraft assembly site has opened in the United States. Last May, aircraft components (fuselage, wing sections and tail fins) began leaving the port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire for the assembly site in Mobile, Alabama, located between Louisiana and Florida. This was a first for the Grand Port Nantes Saint-Nazaire, which was able to meet demand in the face of the ramp-up of the US site. Airbus Saint-Nazaire is now the leading Airbus site for supplying the US. The port of Hamburg, once considered an option, remains the dedicated platform for Asia.

An XXL avenue to transport oversized freight

With its easy access to the sea and its state-of-the-art infrastructure, the Airbus Saint-Nazaire site, which has a leading edge over the plants in Spain and Toulouse, has strong growth potential. In June, a new boulevard will be inaugurated to facilitate the transport of XXL shipments between the plants and the ro-ro terminal of the port. A key element of this project is the creation of the Boulevard des Apprentis, an XXL avenue, 21 metres wide, for transporting oversized freight for Airbus plants. This industrial port area of Saint-Nazaire is expanding, supported in parallel by the shipbuilding sector and the rapid development of the marine renewable energy sector.


Aircraft transport on the Loire

With the increased workload of the world leader Airbus, the entire logistics chain is adapting. A river barge accommodating oversize freight on the estuary has also just been inaugurated for the transport of the A350 central wing boxes. It expedites the transport of freight between the Nantes site, which manufactures central wing boxes, centre line beams, nose cones and nacelle air inlets, and the Saint-Nazaire plant, which integrates, equips and tests the forward and centre sections of all aircraft. Airbus is the first customer of the FlexiLoire river service, a project headed up by the Nantes and Saint-Nazaire local authorities. The volume transported by the barge is equivalent to 100 trucks.

Influx of aeronautical subcontractors and engineering firms

With an order book that ensures visibility for the next 10 years, Airbus attracts a great many subcontractors to Saint-Nazaire and Nantes. Companies like Figeac Aero, Sogeclair, Dufieux Industries and Simra have moved here to be close to their main client, working hard to keep up with the production schedule. Likewise, engineering firms Assystem Technologies and Segula find work in aeronautics and marine renewable energy in Nantes Saint-Nazaire.

An award-winning digital solution

Airbus is also innovating thanks to digital technology. More than 10 million euros were invested in 2017 at the Saint-Nazaire site and around 250 people mobilized to develop digital solutions to improve the logistics chain. First result: the FlowMetrics tool, an innovative solution that enables real-time tracking of the 5,000 packages received each day at the Saint-Nazaire site and for which Airbus Saint-Nazaire has just won the "Usine Nouvelle 2018" award in the Supply Chain category.