Ireland may not be the first country that comes to mind in aviation, but it certainly has a strong impact now in how the industry is run.
From Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary to Willie Walsh at IAG, Alan Joyce at Qantas to Peter Bellew at Malaysian, Irish people certainly know how to run airlines but Ireland’s influence on the industry now runs much deeper. As home to major aircraft lessors and buyers, Aercap, GECAS, Avolon, Airbus, Nordic and CIT, among others, industry experts estimate that between 6,500 and 8,000 aircraft are now owned andmanaged from Ireland - that’s nearly 40% of the global fleet! Whereas in the past this has meant more lawyers and finance people, leasing now employs far more engineers and technical experts focused on managing their assets either with, or for, their airline customers, including their MRO and what goes into them.
Many of these experts have been drawn from the long established but still highly competitive MRO industry which includes Lufthansa, SR Technics, Eirtech IAC and Dublin Aerospace.
As a trading nation exporting well over 85% of what it produces, Ireland is certainly attuned to the demands of global competition with manufacturing retaining a strong influence on exports and employment intensity, in excess even of Germany. Whereas for some, the coming impact of robotics, automation and other new technologies might seem dauntingfor employment, for Ireland it is seen as an essential part of its competitive future.
The Irish Government, through its enterpriseagencies, IDA Ireland (for foreign investors)and Enterprise Ireland (for domestic firms) has been supporting the integration of new technologies through high levels of support for in-company training but more importantly in direct R&D funding. Grants, generous R&D tax credits of 25% allied with Ireland’s competitive 12.5% low corporate tax rate, have been aligned to ensure firms which take risks are rewarded. As a result, Ireland consistently ranks as one of the top three most productive economies in the world and one of Europe’s most innovative.
With state funding through its Science Foundation Ireland agency, Ireland has been attracting world-class researchers to support its research centres in materials sciences, advanced and industrial internet capabilities in algorithms, data analytics and sensordevelopment. Ireland’s global scientific ranking is now at number two for Chemistry and Nanotechnology and at number four in Mathematics and Materials. For the aerospaceindustry, interest includes the opening of new production focused centres such as iComp for composites. Its industry partners include Bombardier and Henkel. Other significant research centres include Insight and CeADAR on data analytics, LERO for advanced software development and the IMRC, an industry led government funded centre specifically created to increase production expertise in advanced materials, 3D printing and additive manufacturing.
The impact of this investment has been quite direct. In 2014 United Technologies (UTRC) chose Ireland as the location for its global R&D efforts in cyber physical systems for aviation, an area which covers software, electronic sensors, analytics and core platform development methodologies for electric aircraft. Industry has also seen increased investment from UTC itself for after-market sensor services, by SR Technics in automated plasma based blade repair technologies, Lufthansa Technik in automation as well asmajor investments by J&J in automation and by Stryker in additive manufacturing in theclosely allied medtech industry.
IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Airport will be in Hall2B at Stand DE2 during the Paris Show.