This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/12/2018
Aerospace has been a major focus in Mexican economic development, both as an industrial sector and in connection to commercial, private, and defense aviation growth. All these factors combine to make aerospace a key part of our priority sector strategy and a best-prospect industry sector for Mexico.
 

Overview

The following table provides the most recent statistics for the aerospace industry in Mexico. Please note that these figures include aviation products and services, as well as military-related purchases, but they do not include airport construction products and services.

Mexico Aerospace Industry Market Size
(Figures in USD billions)

 
 2015201620172018 (Estimated)
Total Local Production2.923.003.063.12
Total Exports3.963.923.914.21
Total Imports4.744.805.415.71
Imports from the U.S.
 
2.712.723.473.49
Total Market Size*3.703.884.564.62
Exchange Rates15.8918.6818.9119.09
*Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
Note that 2016-2018 reductions in the value of the Mexican Peso mask growth in these numbers.
Source: Global Trade Atlas 2018


The aerospace industry is relatively young in Mexico, but its roots are deep. In the State of Baja California, for example, one firm has been in the market for 60 years, and aerospace is one of its leading business divisions. Mexico’s aerospace industry is an excellent example of growth, foreign investment attraction, and job creation: 20 percent average annual export growth 2013-2015, 63,000 jobs created as of 2016, and up to USD 6 billion in accumulated direct foreign investment (2007-2017). Moreover, global demand for new aircraft and maintenance services—and growing air passenger flows worldwide—support a positive future for the industry.

 

Aerospace Supply Chains and Production

The number of aerospace firms in Mexico grew to 330 in 2017, from only 112 firms in 2009. The arrival of the French aerospace firm Bombardier in the State of Queretaro in 2004 encouraged many international firms to look at the Mexican aerospace sector. The Mexican Government launched various programs to create employment opportunities, including business incentives, new workforce training programs, and new universities. The Mexican Government has called this effort the “three helixes” as it successfully forged close collaboration between the private sector, government, and academia.

The Mexican Government’s Maquiladora Export Program, beginning in the late sixties, laid the foundation for the aerospace industry by expanding industrialization, employment, and regional development. The Maquiladora Program allows the importation of goods without paying import duties to assemble products that will be exported. Several aerospace firms moved to the northern border cities to reduce costs and take advantage of the flexibility and customs procedures of maquiladora in-bond operations. This trend accelerated industrial park development in northern Mexico. These parks have evolved into diversified aerospace hubs, or clusters. Some examples of aerospace companies with a long-term presence include Rockwell Collins (1969), Safran Group (1991), Labinal (1996/now Safran Labinal), and Beechcraft (2007).

Currently, the aerospace sector in Mexico is comprised of around 330 manufacturing firms and organizations. These primarily include maintenance-repair-overhaul facilities (MROs), technical schools, research centers, and universities, as well as related service providers. In general terms, 72.2 percent of all firms are manufacturers, 13.2 percent focus on design and engineering, 11.2 percent are in MRO services, and 3.4 percent are other support entities. Although Mexico does not currently produce large aircraft, there is manufacturing for aircraft parts and components (commercial, private, and military), design and engineering services, and research and development (R&D). Some firms have obtained global certifications that allow them to move towards other types of manufacturing processes. Some light aircraft prototypes have been developed and in an experimental stage, such as the sport model produced by the Mexican firm Horizontec.

The sector is further divided into original equipment manufacturers (OEMs, producing small final aircraft), companies involved in Tier 1 production (principal aircraft systems), Tier 2 (producers of sub-assemblies), and Tier 3 (parts and supplies). In contrast with the U.S. market, the Mexican aerospace industry does not include local contractors developing entire projects in defense and space; rather, the Mexican niche is for aerospace parts and assemblies that are integrated into final systems.

The Mexican aerospace industry has five main hubs, located in the states of Baja California (Tijuana-Mexicali), Sonora, Chihuahua, Queretaro, and Nuevo León. Baja California is the largest, with 110 aerospace firms supporting more than 35,000 direct jobs. Together with an increased number of OEMs and Tier 1 production, we see moderate growth of Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers. Aerospace hubs continue to attract new aerospace players responding to Mexico’s promotion of logistical advantages, labor, and government incentives.

Mexico has improved its aerospace manufacturing capabilities, moving from production of components, small parts, and harnesses, to manufacturing of airframes, flight surfaces, small drones, and flight control and avionic assemblies. For instance, Aernnova produces airframe and flight structures, GE and Rolls Royce develop new turbine systems, Fokker Aerostructures manufactures wings for jets, and Safran Group—with ten facilities in the country and seven in the State of Queretaro—manufactures landing systems, engine parts, jet engine components, and jet housings, among many other components. Engineering and design activities have been very successful and have extended to production of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and light aircraft projects. In the long-term, the Mexican Government and domestic industry seek the production of large commercial aircraft.

 

Regulatory Harmonization and Sector Development

Regulatory harmonization has advanced in recent years. The 2012 Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) has achieved mutual recognition of aerospace standards between the United States and Mexico, such as the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP) and the AS9100 aerospace quality management system, as well as certifications from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its Mexican counterpart, the Dirección General de Aeronaútica Civil (DGAC). Altogether, these developments have facilitated growth of manufacturing operations in the North American region. In addition, the Wassenaar Agreement (2011-2013) provides regulations to effectively control the exportation of sensitive dual-use aerospace products exports.

In 2012, the Mexican Secretariat of Economy (SE) introduced the Aerospace Industry National Strategic Program 2012-2020, called Pro-Aereo. The program seeks to elevate Mexico to the top 10 global aerospace suppliers by 2020, with a projected USD 12 billion in exports, and the creation of 110,000 jobs. Pro-Aero establishes policies for market development, domestic and international promotion, technological and human resource development, and vertical integration.

 

Aviation Growth

A further factor in the growth of Mexico’s aerospace industry is the rapid growth of the country’s aviation sector. Mexican commercial aviation and related demand for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) has been driven by several factors, including the expansion of low-cost carriers such as Volaris and Interjet, the 2016 approval of the Delta-Aeromexico partnership, the 2015 conclusion of the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Air Transport (“Open Skies”) Agreement, and increased use of Mexico as a regional hub. The Open Skies agreement eliminated restrictions on routes between the two countries, allowing passenger airlines and all-cargo carriers to serve any combination of city pairs in the United States and Mexico. In addition, it allows cargo carriers to begin or end routes outside the two countries. Another profound change in the aviation industry has been the success of low-cost airlines vis-a-vis traditional airlines. Since 2016, Volaris, Viva Aerobus, and Interjet have invested in new assets and modernized their fleets. Mexico’s New International Airport (NAIM), currently under construction, will replace the existing Benito Juarez International Airport serving Mexico City. NAIM is scheduled to open by late 2020. (Further information on NAIM construction is available in our section on Transportation Infrastructure.)

Airline passenger flows reported by DGAC show annual average growth of nearly ten percent 2015-2017. Passenger volumes grew from 114.1 million passengers in 2015 to 126.8 million passengers in 2016 and 137.6 million of passengers in 2017. The country has a network of 64 international commercial airports and 1,424 airfields that include military bases and small private airports. The 64 international commercial airports are operated by private-sector companies with long-term concession agreements and others are managed directly by the government. In 2017, the top five airports by passenger volume were Mexico City (44.5 million), Cancún (23.6 million), Guadalajara (12.7 million), Monterrey (9.6 million), and Tijuana (7.1 million). Some of the larger groups operating the international commercial airports include the following:

 
  • Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte (OMA) manages 13 airports in northern and central Mexico that handled 19.6 million passengers in 2017. Improvement projects are underway at half of the OMA airports and are detailed in the Infrastructure section.
  • Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (GAP) manages 12 Pacific coast airports handling 40.7 million passengers in 2017. GAP has worked on improvement projects at the Guadalajara and Tijuana airports as detailed in the Infrastructure section.
  • Grupo Aeroportuarios del Sureste (ASUR) manages nine airports in the Gulf of Mexico and southern Mexico, and one international airport in Puerto Rico. Nationally it served 31 million passengers in 2017. In the 2013-2018 period, ASUR is continuing infrastructure investment in Cancun, Villahermosa, and Veracruz airports.
  • Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares (ASA) is a government agency that operates 19 airports, co-operates five additional airports, and supplies fuel to 63 airports. The additional five airports it co-operates include Toluca, Queretaro, Cuernavaca, Ciudad del Carmen, and Tuxtla Gutierrez airports. ASA airports handled 2.7 million passengers in 2017.
  • The Benito Juarez Airport is known in Spanish as Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de Mexico (AICM) and is one of the largest in the world, logging 41.4 million passengers in 2017. AICM operates under a concession structured as a majority state participation company with the name of Grupo Aeroportuario de la Ciudad de Mexico. S.A. de C.V. (GACM). The Infrastructure section of this guide describes in greater detail the NAIM project to construct a new airport for the Mexico City metro area.


The Space Program

 

The Mexican space program is a further consideration for aerospace suppliers. The space program is managed by the Mexican Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Mexicana, AEM). The AEM, in its current form, was only established in 2010 with specific, modest goals. However, its efforts to expand the country’s satellite network for communications, space science development, environmental modeling, and surveillance have generated opportunities for U.S.-produced space systems and suppliers. AEM has several cooperation agreements with NASA on space education. It has managed a nanosatellite program with local educational institutions to motivate new programs among space professionals. In 2017, the AEM, the Ministry of Economy (SE), and ProMexico published the Plan de Orbita 2.0 (Orbit Plan 2.0), a strategic space sector development program outlining niche opportunities and recommendations on specific space projects.
 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Leading sub-sectors for aerospace opportunities in Mexico include supplying manufacturing and assembly plants, the entire aviation ecosystem, and the defense sector.

Despite the rapid growth of Mexico’s aerospace industry—or perhaps because of it—the mix of local Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers is still lacking. Large OEMs are unable to find specialized, fully certified local suppliers with advanced capabilities and with sufficient logistics capabilities. This fact, combined with evolving government regulations supporting supply chain growth, creates sales opportunities across Tier 2 and 3 suppliers.

In terms of current supply chain conditions, the Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry (FEMIA/2016) estimates that Boeing had 26 Mexican suppliers, Airbus had 36, and Embraer 13. However, large aerospace OEMs continue looking to expand their supply chain in Mexico to develop global strategies for their business continuity and establish middle- and long-term production programs. Other aerospace firms have specific manufacturing projects, but they need partners to reach growth, project size, and investment targets.

Recently, research centers have been created to support R&D, not only for new turbines, motors, and components, but also to drive technological solutions for other complex systems, software, and engineering applications in manufacturing processes. In early 2018, the Center of Aeronautical Technologies of Querétaro (CENTA) was inaugurated with the support of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT). It will provide services for the aerospace industry, as well support new projects led by small and medium firms. In mid-2017, INDRA (Spain) also opened a new Center of Technological Development to increase offerings for transportation, infrastructure, energy, and other industrial sectors.

These opportunities go hand-in-hand with growth of the aviation sector, where we see growth of demand for flight and maintenance training, parts and maintenance services, airport needs, and supply of a variety of aircraft including both fixed-wing and helicopters.

 

Opportunities

The U.S. Commercial Service Mexico is happy to assist you in exploring market opportunities, particularly in the following sub-sectors.
 

Supply Chain Opportunities

Some of the best prospects for products and services in the aerospace industry are:
 
  • Thermal and hydro forming
  • Surface treatments
  • Nitro-carburized materials and nitrocarburizing
  • Motors and rotors
  • Special composites
  • Testing equipment
  • Special composites and processes
  • Metal treatments
  • Aerospace molding
  • Special tooling
  • Advanced composites
  • Specialized aerospace services

Aviation Sector Opportunities

The growth of Mexican aviation may generate additional opportunities in and around airports:
  • MRO services and maintenance programs
  • Airport construction (see the Infrastructure section)
  • Aircraft and helicopter flight training
  • Aircraft supply and provisioning services
  • Airport equipment, supply, provisioning, and concessions
  • Small aircraft, executive aircraft, and helicopter sales, parts, and services

Defense Sector Opportunities

Another area of potential business opportunity is in defense aerospace. The Mexican Defense Secretariat, SEDENA, which includes both the Army and the Air Force, has nascent manufacturing programs. If these programs continue to be pursued aggressively, we foresee supply opportunities for manufacturing cannon prototypes, two-seater airplanes, experimental training airplanes, air-to-surface missiles, and launchers for military aircraft. In fact, SEDENA and the Ministry of the Navy (SEMAR) received large 2018 budgets of around USD 4.1 billion and USD 1.6 billion, respectively. In addition, we have identified military spending needs that include the following:
  • Aerial surveillance radars (leasing)
  • C-295 airplanes for military transportation
  • Helicopters for high impact operations (leasing)
  • Tactical operations assets
  • Ship construction
  • Cargo and personal transportation helicopters
  • Cargo and military transportation airplanes
  • Systems and equipment for maritime surveillance

Web Resources

Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT)http://www.gob.mx/sct
National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI)http://www.inegi.org.mx
Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry (FEMIA)https://www.femia.com.mx/
ProMexicohttp://www.gob.mx/promexico
Mexican Space Agency (AEM)http://www.gob.mx/aem
Mexico Now (magazine)http://www.mexico-now.com
JetsNews (Aerospace supplements)http://www.jetnews.com.mx
Vuela Magazinehttp://www.vuela.com.mx

Events

To explore these market niches and develop essential contacts, we recommend two activities. First, organize site visits to Mexican aerospace hubs and meetings with companies directly involved with the industry. Second, attend one or more of the upcoming commercial events in the sector. In some, we will participate with U.S. Pavilions:
 
  • Mexico Aerospace Summit 2018, August 16-17, Queretaro Congress Center, Queretaro City, Queretaro, Mexico
  • BC Aero 2018, November 15-16, Tijuana-Rosarito, BC Center, Baja California, Mexico
  • Engines Forum Sonora 2019, February 27-28, Expo Forum Hermosillo, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
  • FAMEX 2019, April 24-26, 2019 / U.S. Pavilion Santa Lucia Military Base No. 1., Zumpango, State of Mexico
 

Contacts

For more information on the aerospace sector in Mexico, please contact:

Silvia I. Cárdenas

Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Mexico City

Tel: + 52 55 5080-2000 ext. 5209

Silvia.Cardenas@trade.gov























 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Mexico Aerospace and Defense Trade Development and Promotion