Aérospatiale

Aérospatiale (French pronunciation: ​), sometimes styled Aerospatiale, was a French state-owned aerospace manufacturer that built both civilian and military aircraft, rockets and satellites. It was originally known as Société nationale industrielle aérospatiale (SNIAS). Its head office was in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The name was changed to Aerospatiale during 1970.

During the 1990s, Aérospatiale underwent several significant restructures and mergers. Its helicopter division was, along with Germany's DaimlerBenz Aerospace AG (DASA), combined together to form the Eurocopter Group. In 1999, the majority of Aérospatiale, except for the satellites activities, merged with French conglomerate Matra's defense wing, Matra Haute Technologie, to form Aérospatiale-Matra. That same year, the satellite manufacturing division merged with Alcatel to become Alcatel Space, now Thales Alenia Space. In 2001, Aérospatiale-Matra merged with Spanish aviation company Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) and German defense firm DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (DASA) to form the multinational European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). Currently, the majority of the former assets of the company are part of the multinational Airbus consortium.

During 1970, Aérospatiale was created under the name SNIAS as a result of the merger of several French state-owned companies - Sud Aviation, Nord Aviation and Société d'études et de réalisation d'engins balistiques (SEREB). The newly formed entity was the largest aerospace company in France. From the onset, the French government owned a controlling stake in Aérospatiale; at one stage, a 97 per cent ownership of the company was held by the government.

In 1971, Aérospatiale was directed by the French industrialist Henri Ziegler; that same year, the firm's North American marketing and sales arm, which had previously operated under the trading name of the French Aerospace Corporation, was officially rebranded as the European Aerospace Corporation, which was stated to better reflect Aérospatiale's increasing focus on collaborative efforts with its European partners.

Many of Aérospatiale's initial programmes were hangovers from its predercessors, particularly those of Sud Aviation. Perhaps the most iconic and high-profile of the company's programmes was Concorde, a joint French-British attempt to develop and market a supersonic commercial airliner. Initial work on the project had commenced at Sud Aviation and the Bristol Aeroplane Company, its British counterpart. The engines for Concorde were also developed as an Anglo-French joint effort between French engine firm SNECMA and Bristol Siddeley. However, the programme was highly politicised and encountered considerable cost overruns and delays. Ultimately, negatively affected equally by bad political decision and an oil crisis in the 1970s, only two airlines purchased Concorde.

Aérospatiale's senior management were keen not to repeat the mistakes of the programme to produce Concorde. Their next major effort was would be an international collaborative effort between British Aerospace and West German's aircraft company Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB). The consortium, known as called Airbus Industrie, was established with the purpose of building a twin-engined widebody airliner, known as the A300. While at first, it was difficult to achieve sales and the outlook for the A300 looked negative. However, Aérospatiale continued to manufacture the jetliner even without orders for some aircraft as it could not reasonbly cut back production as French law required that laid-off employees were to receive 90 percent of their pay for a year as well at to retain their health benefits throughout. Sales of the A300 picked up and the type became a major commercial success for those involved, eventually driving both the American Lockheed L-1011 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 from the market due to its cheaper operating model. On the back of this success, further airliners would be produced under the Airbus brand and the company would become a world leader in the field of large commercial aircraft during the 1990s.

This page was last edited on 10 May 2018, at 15:56.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerospatiale under CC BY-SA license.

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