Belén laico republicano

El pasado 9 de noviembre se publicó una decisión del Consejo de Estado francés sobre la posibilidad de instalar belenes en lugares públicos. En muchos medios (sobre todo en aquellos radicados en España) rápidamente se recogía la noticia como que el Consejo de Estado sí lo permitía.

La opinión del Consejo de Estado había sido requerida, dado que la instalación de belenes en distintos municipios había sido objeto de denuncia, y los respectivos tribunales administrativos habían fallado en distinto sentido.

¿Qué dice exactamente la decisión del Consejo de Estado?

Le Conseil d’État rappelle la portée du principe de laïcité. Celui-ci crée des obligations pour les personnes publiques, en leur imposant notamment :

  • d’assurer la liberté de conscience et de garantir le libre exercice des cultes ;
  • de veiller à la neutralité des agents publics et des services publics à l’égard des cultes, en particulier en n’en reconnaissant, ni en n’en subventionnant aucun.

Le Conseil d’État juge que l’article 28 de la loi de 1905, qui met en œuvre le principe de neutralité, interdit l’installation, par des personnes publiques, de signes ou emblèmes qui manifestent la reconnaissance d’un culte ou marquent une préférence religieuse.

En raison de la pluralité de significations des crèches de Noël, qui présentent un caractère religieux mais sont aussi des éléments des décorations profanes installées pour les fêtes de fin d’année, le Conseil d’État juge que leur installation temporaire à l’initiative d’une personne publique, dans un emplacement public, est légale si elle présente un caractère culturel, artistique ou festif, mais non si elle exprime la reconnaissance d’un culte ou une préférence religieuse.

Pour déterminer si l’installation d’une crèche de Noël présente un caractère culturel, artistique ou festif, ou si elle exprime au contraire la reconnaissance d’un culte ou une préférence religieuse, le Conseil d’État juge qu’il convient de tenir compte du contexte dans lequel a lieu l’installation, des conditions particulières de cette installation, de l’existence ou de l’absence d’usages locaux et du lieu de cette installation.

Compte tenu de l’importance du lieu de l’installation, le Conseil d’État précise qu’il y a lieu de distinguer les bâtiments des autres emplacements publics :

  • dans les bâtiments publics, sièges d’une collectivité publique ou d’un service public, une crèche de Noël ne peut pas être installée, sauf si des circonstances particulières montrent que cette installation présente un caractère culturel, artistique ou festif ;
  • dans les autres emplacements publics, compte tenu du caractère festif des installations liées aux fêtes de fin d’année, l’installation d’une crèche de Noël est légale, sauf si elle constitue un acte de prosélytisme ou de revendication d’une opinion religieuse.

[…]

Si uno toma la molestia de leer la decisión, en ella se aclara, que:

  • los belenes con un carácter religioso quedan prohibidos,
  • se permiten aquellos que presenten sólamente un carácter cultural, artístico o festivo.

La decisión va más allá y ofrece una guía para distinguir los casos, dando especial relevancia al emplazamiento público donde se quiera instalar el belén:

  • la instalación en edificios públicos, o en sedes de colectividades queda prohibida, salvo circunstancias particulares que muestren el carácter cultural, artístico o festivo,
  • en otros lugares públicos, como plazas, se entiende el carácter festivo y queda permitida la instalación, salvo si se considera un acto de proselitismo o reivindicación de opinión religiosa.

La decisión del Consejo de Estado se apoya en el artículo 28 de la ley de 1905, que dice lo siguiente:

Article 28

Il est interdit, à l’avenir, d’élever ou d’apposer aucun signe ou emblème religieux sur les monuments publics ou en quelque emplacement public que ce soit, à l’exception des édifices servant au culte, des terrains de sépulture dans les cimetières, des monuments funéraires, ainsi que des musées ou expositions.

Por último, tenía curiosidad por ver cómo se menciona el laicismo en la constitución francesa, donde queda recogida en el artículo primero dentro del preámbulo:

ARTICLE PREMIER.

La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l’égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d’origine, de race ou de religion. Elle respecte toutes les croyances. Son organisation est décentralisée.

La loi favorise l’égal accès des femmes et des hommes aux mandats électoraux et fonctions électives, ainsi qu’aux responsabilités professionnelles et sociales.

Desde hace unos días, en la escuela (republicana) maternal a la que acude mi hija se ha instalado un árbol de navidad con su preceptivo “belén laico republicano”, con carácter cultural, artístico y festivo, donde se representa una ciudad moderna con un Santa Claus.

belenrepublicano

En el caso español, tenemos el artículo 16 del título primero de la constitución española que define que ninguna confesión tendrá carácter estatal.

Título I. De los derechos y deberes fundamentales

[…]

Artículo 16

  1. Se garantiza la libertad ideológica, religiosa y de culto de los individuos y las comunidades sin más limitación, en sus manifestaciones, que la necesaria para el mantenimiento del orden público protegido por la ley.
  2. Nadie podrá ser obligado a declarar sobre su ideología, religión o creencias.
  3. Ninguna confesión tendrá carácter estatal. Los poderes públicos tendrán en cuenta las creencias religiosas de la sociedad española y mantendrán las consiguientes relaciones de cooperación con la Iglesia Católica y las demás confesiones.

Y a partir de ahí, belenes en colegios, ayuntamientos, plazas, concursos patrocinados por ayuntamientos para elegir el mejor belén, insultos a quien se aleje de la doctrina, etc. Todo ello muy español.

¡Se armó el Belén!

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Why do bad things happen to good companies?

Last week, I attended a Finance conference were one of the speakers (a coach and keynote speaker by the name Martin Carper) delivered a talk titled “Why do bad things happen to good companies?” (1).

Martin opened the speech with the fall of the Medici bank collapse at the end of the XV century, followed by the more recent sound cases of  Enron scandal (fraud accounting), the BP oil spill (in the Gulf of Mexico), Volkswagen emissions scandal (rigged tests on diesel cars). Why all those companies which seemed so good found themselves immersed in such crises. Were they so good? Those companies were filled up with outstanding individuals, following well thought, proven processes, yet they found themselves caught in fire. As it turns out, those companies were not so good after the fact. Investigations revealed major frauds, wrong incentives schemes, bad attitudes.

The reason according to Martin: the key to keep being good is about mindset.

He proposed the audience a couple of quick exercises:

  • triangles“Rate yourself as driver in relation to the rest of the group”. Studies show that 80% of the individuals to whom this question is asked, rate themselves above average. The key: Illusionary superiority.
  • How many triangles do you see here?” “Does anyone see more than 4, 6… 8 triangles?

I was one of those in the audience seeing plenty of triangles. One new triangle after each couple of seconds. But there are none. “A triangle is a polygon with three edges and three vertices“. There are no three edges in any of those figures you may think you see.

This trick helped him to introduce what is commonly known as System 1 thinking, the kind of short-term memory, quick way of thinking, as opposed to System 2 thinking; the more rational way, responsible of the complex thought process used to solve difficult problems. The difference between multiplying mentally 3×3 or 17×23. The difference between driving home or finding your route in an unknown place with the only help of a chart (without a GPS navigator). This terminology of System 1 and 2 was introduced in the book “Thinking, fast and slow” by the 2002 Economics Nobel prize laureate Daniel Kahneman (1).

The speaker then recommended to pause, and, in order to have the correct mindset to avoid those bad things from happening, he invited us to adopt what he called the 3 Ps:

  • Pace. He stressed the need to combine the different ways of thinking, systems 1 and 2, with their respective speeds. Not to be driven always by automatic processes into a purely system 1 way of thinking. He used the classical adage “Festina lente“, meaning “More haste, less speed”.
  • Position. He called for taking a step back to see the overall picture before taking action. To analyze the situation, see all possible options before chosing one. He showed the difference in the layout of a captain’s deck vs. an admiral one in a major British navy ship.
  • Perspective. Here he mentioned an anecdote from Jan Carlzon, the CEO of the SAS airline during the 80s and beginning of the 90s, and credited with the transformation of the company. To stress that small things mattered, Jan would check on and insist that coffee stains be cleaned in the lavatories, as it served as an indicator to the everyone (including the customers) of how seriously SAS took all maintenance procedures. Otherwise, if a coffee stain had slipped through the processes, what other faults could have done so as well.

(1) His speech shares almost squarely the title with but has no relation to the Harvard Business School case study published in the 90s by the authors Benson P. Shapiro, Richard S. Tedlow and Adrian J. Slywotzky, in which they introduced the concept of value migration.

(2) This a fabulous book, published in 2011, on the mental process and the biases of our mind, which references plenty of psychology studies made by different researches along decades. I read it back in 2013 and I strongly recommend it.

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Leadership perspectives from a TOPGUN pilot

A few days ago, I attended a conference by an executive from Airbus recently founded subsidiary . The talk was on Leadership Perspectives, from his experience in government (as a White House military aide for two US presidents), as an aviator in the US Marines, within the aerospace industry, etc. The resume of David Kalinske is impressive, take a look at his profile here.

The conference in itself was rather classic and straightforward; going from a discussion on the definition of leadership to its main traits (no charisma, extrovert or outspoken type of person among them, by the way), principles of a good leader, a few key lessons learnt, some best experiences and recommendations, with a questions and answers session at the end of it. Plenty of common sense.

nfws_tgThere were, however, two sections from this speech that I found especially interesting and unique, which were the ones based on his takeaways from having served as a military tactical pilot (graduated in the TOPGUN school) and as an aide to presidents G. W. Bush and B. Obama. I will share below some of those takeaways with a few comments from my side.

Lessons learned from tactical aviation:

  • “You are only as good as your last flight”. Which in the business world may be translated as “as good as your last closed sale”, “your last analysis”, “test performed”, “meeting effectively managed”, etc. You need to be constantly aiming for the best performance.
  • “It takes a good wingman to be a good flight lead”. This one highlights the importance of team work, of developing the skills of the team members, empowering the team so they can take good decisions, delegate.
  • “Debrief, debrief, debrief” (1). Continuous effective communication and the importance of feedback loops cannot be overstated. Here I want to comment on the resource of the public speaking organization Toastmasters, which is heavily built around giving and receiving continuous feedback. It really helps oneself to get into that attitude.
  • “Be your own worst critic”. Don’t wait till someone has to point to you your own flaws and errors, be self-critical to improve yourself. In relation to this point, Chuck Yeager mentioned in his autobiography“Arrogance got more pilots in trouble than faulty equipment”. Moreover, Charles A. Lindbergh recalled in his autobiography the following piece of advice from his instructor in the Army (Master Sergeant Winston) “I just want you to remember this: in aviation, it may be all right to fool the other fellow about how good you are – if you can. But don’t try to fool yourself”.
  • “Plan from the target, outward”. Take this one as linked to setting smart objectives, realistic plans.
  • “Always be flexible. Your plan will never withstands first contact”. This relates to risk mitigation, the having a plan B, working on “what if” scenarios, etc. There is a similar line from former boxer Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth”.
  • “Make complicated missions understood by all”. The one person that has not understood the mission may become the weakest link on the chain. David mentioned that one striking difference between working in private companies or the military is the widespread knowledge of the organization’s mission, main objectives and how an individual may contribute to them in the latter.
  • “There are no points for 2nd place”. Sometimes there is no place for mistakes. The drive for excellence. Contracts are awarded only to the best offer.
  • “Bearing & discipline. Never appear rattled in the toughest circumstances”. Once there is a plan, the execution of that plan is key. The team, the leader cannot be constantly questioning the plan. My flight instructor used to say: “dans l’air, le cap c’est la vie”, once you have worked out your navigation plan, you need to rigorously stick to it. Charles A. Lindbergh described in his biography how the uncertainty of his flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 made him wonder that, depending on the prevailing winds combined with his precision while flying, the land he would spot first could range from Norway to the gulf of Biscay in Spain. He spotted the Irish coast, right on the middle of his intended track.
  • “Face your fears”. David gave as an example public speaking; for that one I would recommend again Toastmasters. In a  more general context he referred to acquiring new skills, being adaptive to change, to getting out of your comfort zone. Chuck Yeager said “I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment”.
  • “Nothing is accomplished without a team effort”.

Lessons learned from the White House:

  • You cannot please everybody. In the case of the president, there will always be 150 million people loving you and 150 million people hating you. You cannot take decisions trying to please everybody.
  • Do what you think it’s right based on your principles.
  • Hire the best, learn from them. Surround yourself with the best. As a motivational speaker put it “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”.
  • Be optimistic. 
  • Be an expert at dealing with bad news. And don’t let yourself be driven by them.

Conclusion.

The main takeaways, that I personally got from this conference, based on his general presentation and particularly on his experience as a pilot and in the White House, are: effective team work (including trust, empowerment, delegation), continuous candid and constructive feedback and keeping an optimistic attitude (including the reaching out of new experiences, getting yourself out of your comfort zone).

(1) David mentioned that even for dogfight flights that would not last more than 45 minutes they would have a post-flight debrief of up to 8 hours. This impressed me. I write myself a post flight report after every VFR flight, but my report may be about 1 DIN A4 length.

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Chapecoense, Manchester United and Grande Torino

chapecoenseLast November 28th the LaMia flight 2933 crashed in Colombia killing 71 of the 77 people on board. Many of those victims (19) were players of the Brazilian club Associação Chapecoense de Futebol which headed towards Medellin to play the first leg of the final of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana against the Colombian team  Atlético Nacional.

Shortly after the crash Atlético Nacional expressed their wish that the South American football association, CONMEBOL, declared the club Chapecoense as winner of the competition. That was a very honorable request, fully deserving the “premio del Centenario Conmebol al Fair Play” (Conmebol Centenary prize for Fair Play) as announced in a press release of Conmebol on December 5th.

In that same press release, Conmebol announced that they were declaring Chapecoense as winners of the Copa Sudamericana as had been requested.

A few days before I had written a series of tweets expressing my opinion on the subject, which is: I think that decision is a mistake, it is the wrong homage to pay to Chapecoense. But then I am not the one deciding on the matter.

Manchester United. Munich disaster.

The example I used support my view is that of Manchester United, which suffered a similar tragedy in 1958 in Munich, when it was coming from Belgrade from having qualified to the semifinals of the 3rd edition of the European Cup. That accident took place in February 1958 and it cost the lives of 8 players (one of them at the hospital days later due to the injuries suffered in the crash) and many members of the staff. The other half of the team onboard (9 players plus staff) survived the crash (23 fatal victims out of 44 onboard).

The crash caught Manchester in the middle of the season and they managed to rebuild the club with the youth team plus some players signed at the last months of the competition. Manchester had won the First Division in 1957 and in 1958 they were trying to win the 3rd consecutive title. At the time of the accident they were qualified second to Wolverhampton, 6 points behind with 14 games to go. After the crash the only won 1 match, finishing 9th in a league of 22.

Three months after the accident they played the FA Cup final against Bolton Wanderers, which they lost 2-0. A few days later they played the semi finals of the European Cup against Milan. They won the first leg but were defeated after losing 4-0 in San Siro.

UEFA invited the club Manchester United to play the following edition of the European Cup. A similar recognition to that of Conmebol, though of a lesser degree (1). The English Football Association, the FA, however, denied Manchester United to accept that invitation on the basis that they had not qualified for the competition. It is in this line of thought that my opinion on the subject goes. 82On the one hand we have the recognition, the homage, tribute and compassion for the victims, on the other is the sport itself, the competition and the rules of the game.

Life found its way to pay homage to those players years later. A rebuilt Manchester, around the figures of Bobby Charlton and Mutt Busby (both survivors of the accident) would go to win the European Cup in 1968, ten years after the crash.

Il Grande Torino.

Unfortunately we have yet another similar case in that of the Torino of the 40s. That club was known as the Grande Torino due to the superb game they played and the successes they collected. They won the league in the ’43, ’46, ’47 and ’48. In that last season they won the league reaching 65 points with a lead of 16 over the second, with goal difference of plus 92 (125 goals scored in 40 games).

grande_torino_1949Before the crash, on May 4th 1949, Torino led the league with a difference of 4 points over the second, Internazionale, against whom they had just played for a 0-0 in Milan. They were on the way of winning its 4th consecutive title. All those 31 aboard the aircraft which crashed against the Basilica of Superga died.

A couple of days after the crash, Torino were declared champions of the 1948-49 league, with still 4 games to go. The league did not stop. The last 4 games were played, with Torino putting up the reserve team. At the end they had a lead of 5 points over the second, Internazionale. I haven’t found the chronology of those last 4 games of Torino and Inter, but I guess that once the league result had already been decided, those matches may have not been truly competitive.

Conclusion.

In all these three cases, the federation organizing the championship, Conmebol, UEFA and the Italian Federation, had a recognition action in the sense of interfering in the competition, in two cases deciding the champion of the competition (2).

Only the English FA decided against the accepting of one such decision in the sense of preserving results has having occurred in the fields.

(1) The accident of the Chapecoense took place just prior to the final. The accident of Manchester United after the semifinal, with three other teams in the competition and two months until the next match was to be played.

(2) In the case of Conmebol, they could have declared winners Atletico Nacional but invite Chapecoense to play next year edition of the competition, as did UEFA with Manchester United.

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European aerospace sector and regions

A few years ago due to a previous job position, I got used to look at materials of the different aerospace industry associations or agencies, from the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), the European Defence Agency (EDA), or focusing on Spain, the TEDAE, on France, GIFAS, etc. I would do that to seek relevant figures about the business, employment, trends… Nowadays, I do that from time to time out of curiosity to see the evolution in the recent years.

The documents, yearly reports or facts and figures brochures that those institutions publish provide a good snapshot of the aerospace sector, its main players, locations, trends, civil / military split, resources invested in R&D, orders of magnitude, etc. Let’s take first a brief look at the sources and see what we can learn from them.

Europe – ASD.

The ASD releases every year a “Key Facts & Figures” brochure (2015 issue here, PDF, 1 MB) which provides consolidated European figures of revenue, employment, investment in R&D, the split per sector (aeronautics (civil vs. military), space, land & navel)). Let me share some figures and graphic as teaser. In the year 2015 :

  • The turnover of the industry was 222 bn€ (54% civil / 46% military). Up 11% from 2014.
  • Direct employment: 847,700, out of which 552 k in aeronautics (2/3 in civil).
  • R&D expenditure: 20 bn€ (that is a 9% of revenues), out of which 16 bn€ in aeronautics.

as_2015_synoptic_chart

It is a pity but ASD, in the past, used to provide a more complete view of the business, as it, for example, provided figures of employment per country, compared revenues of the major players in the industry, etc. (see the 2010 brochure as an example). At some point the information provided has turned to be less detailed.

2010 ASD employment figures.

2010 ASD employment figures.

Europe – EDA.

Similarly, the European Defence Agency (EDA), produces a yearly “Defence Data 201x” report with the main figures and trends for the defence: member countries defence expenditures, investment on R&T, equipment, military personnel, etc. The latest one, released in 2016, aggregated defence figures of EDA members states from 2014 (PDF, 300 KB) and previous years. In a few snapshots it can be seen the effect of the crisis and austerity in defence expenditures.

eda_2014_real-defence-expenditure

eda_2014_defence-expenditure-as-a-share-of-gdp

Continued decrease of EDA members defence expenditure as a share of GDP and overall government expenditure.

eda_2014_real-defence-expenditure-breakdown

 

Spain – TEDAE.

At the national level, yours truly being Spanish, I will focus first on TEDAE, which does a similar exercise for Spain as ASD at the European level. TEDAE makes two different kinds of reports, an annual report of activities (“Informe Anual 201x”) and a brochure with the main figures which contains very insightful infographics (“Cifras TEDAE 201x”). You may retrieve them here. Some figures for the year 2015 (find the report here, PDF, 31 MB):

  • Revenues: 9.7 bn€ (5 bn€ defence). Up from 9.4 bn€ in 2014.
  • 10% of revenues are invested in R&D.
  • Employment: 54,448.
  • 83% of revenues are exports.

cifras_tedae_2015

It is a pity but TEDAE, in the past, used to provide a more complete view of the business, as it, for example, provided figures of employment per region within Spain, compared revenues of the major players in the industry, etc. (see the 2013 brochure as an example). At some point the information provided has turned to be less detailed.

cifras_tedae_2013_empleo-regiones

Source: “Cifras TEDAE 2013”.

In the map you can see that almost half of the aerospace activity in terms of revenues (49.3%) takes place in the Madrid region, mainly in Getafe, where Airbus and Airbus Defence and Space have one of the largest factories in Spain. Nevertheless, you can see that in the region there are up to 172 production centres. In terms of employment, Madrid region accounts for a 43.9%, followed by Andalusia with 29.1%, which has seen a continuous growth in the last decade.

France – GIFAS.

Continuing at the national level, yours truly working and living in France, I will focus secondly on GIFAS (Groupement des industries françaises aéronautiques et spatiales) which does a similar exercise for France as TEDAE does for Spain and ASD at the European level. I must say that nowadays, the report from GIFAS is the most complete of the ones I have been reviewing, showing figures of revenues, new orders, employment (per region, gender, profession), recruitment, investment, exports, revenues per region, etc. Find here the annual report from 2015-2016 (PDF, 7 MB). Some key figures of the French aerospace and defence sector:

  • Revenues (unconsolidated): 58.3 bn€ (77% civil; 68% export). Up 14.8% from 2014.
    • That is a 26% of the European aerospace industry, or 6 times the size of Spanish aerospace and defence industry.
  • 15.9% of the revenues are invested in R&D. (7.1 bn€)
  • Employment: 185,000
    • Up 1.7% from 2014.
    • 42% engineers and managerial staff, 21% women, 92% working in aeronautics (8% in space).
    • Those ~170,000 working in aeronautics represent a 31% of the 552,000 employees working in Europe in aeronautics (refer to ASD figures above).
Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

The annual report from GIFAS includes a map with the distribution of employment per region (what I mentioned that ASD for Europe and TEDAE for Spain used to do but they do not anymore) and in it, the weight of Toulouse and its region (Languedoc-Rousillon-Midi-Pyrenees) can be appreciated.

gifas_2016_employment_regions

Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

Up to 28% of the 185,000 employees of the aerospace and defence sector are based in the area (1). That is about 52,000 employees in the region around Toulouse. If we compare with Europe figures from ASD (though those figures date from 2015), they represent around a 9% of the European aeronautics sector, or about the same size of the whole industry in Spain.  Thus, as expected, truly Toulouse is the centre of gravity of the sector in Europe.

Other European Countries.

I then thought it would be good if there was a thorough database or report with key figures and data for the complete of Europe, its countries and regions and wondered whether there was any such source. A kind of report with the breadth of information provided by GIFAS but compiling data from each an every European country. At first sight that compilation could be done by ASD but they do not. And it is not easy to do. For instance, not all bodies representing each national industry provide the same level of detail nor are as diligent in releasing yearly figures, or the figures correspond squarely to the same sectors:

  • The British Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Group (ADS) publishes  a yearly “Facts & Figures” (find here the latest from 2016, PDF, 0.4 MB): 65 bn£ in revenues, thereof 31 bn£ in aerospace, of which 81% export, 13% invested in aerospace R&D (3.9 bn£),  128,000 aerospace employees (out of the global 340,000 employees between the 4 sectors).
  • The German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) releases a yearly brochure with the key figures of the industry (see here the latest one with 2015 key figures, PDF, 0.9 MB): 34.7 bn€ in revenues (up 8% from 2014), 73% in civil aviation, 70% export, 12.1% invested in R&D (4.2 bn€), 106,800 employees.
  • The Italian Industries Federation for Aerospace Defence & Security (AIAD) releases an annual report with figures (find here the 2015 annual report, PDF, 0.4 MB): 15.3 bn€ in revenues, 80% corresponding to the group Leonardo-Finmeccanica, 50,000 employees.
  • The Swedish Security and Defence Industry Association (SOFF) releases a “Facts” brochure with some of those figures (see here the figures from 2013/2014, PDF, 1 MB) a yearly report with some global figures (sales of 30 bn SEK in 2013, about 3 bn€), with some detail: 60% export, 65% military, 18% invested in R&D, about 52,000 employees.
  • The Netherlands Aerospace Group (NAG) releases a “Factsheet” with a good snapshot of the industry (see here the latest one with 2014 figures, PDF, 0.6 MB): 3.9 bn€ in revenues (up 5.4% from 2013), 69% export, 50% MRO, 16,500 employees.

No wonder that ASD does not undertake the exercise to provide a global picture.

Nevertheless, with a quick review of these sources and their figures we have covered the 7 leading European countries in the aerospace and defence industry, which together combine above 85% of the activity and employment.

Clusters – EACP.

Therefore, unfortunately I have not been able to find in the reports of the existing industry association that global, consistent and detailed view. However, in searching for that information I found out about the European Aerospace Cluster Partnership (EACP), that

provides a permanent platform for mutual exchange, policy learning, and cooperation to achieve high-level performance among European aerospace clusters.

[…]

The EACP aims at initiating an active exchange of information and knowledge between all partners and at developing and realizing concrete steps for long-term trans-national cooperation between clusters and companies for a stronger and more competitive European position in the world aerospace markets.

From what I read, the role of the partnership would be similar to that of ASD, but rather than gathering national industry associations (and companies), their members are regional clusters (34 of them from 13 different countries). The partnership started in 2009, and honestly, it had escaped my radar up to now.

Location of EACP clusters (source: EACP brochure).

Location of EACP clusters (source: EACP brochure).

The good news: they release a brochure (PDF, 22 MB) which provides an overview of the clusters in Europe members of EACP. That report provides some figures of 20 of the 34 clusters and taken together it is the closest exercise to the global approach I was looking for. I have compiled in the table below part of the available data of those 20 clusters.

Ranking of EACP clusters by employment. (Source of the data: EACP brochure 2015).

Ranking of EACP clusters by employment. (Source of the data: EACP brochure 2015).

Some comments and caveats to it:

  • The biggest cluster or region is Aerospace Valley which encompasses the French regions of Midi-Pyrenees and Aquitaine, and thus companies such as Airbus, Airbus Defense and Space, Air France Industries (MRO), ATR, Continental, Dassault Aviation, Latécoère, Liebherr Aerospace, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, Turbomeca (Safran Group), Alstom Transport, Honeywell Aerospace, Thales Alenia Space, Thales Avionics, Rockwell Collins and several research centres (2).
  • The report informs that the cluster employs 130,000 workers. Recall the figures included at the GIFAS (industry-only) report, where the combined workforce of the regions Midi-Pyrenees (28%) and Aquitaine (10%) is about 70,000 employees (I have taken the percentages from the GIFAS 2014 report, previous to the re-organization of French regions).
  • The largest region in Spain, as we saw before, is Madrid. Madrid Aerospace Cluster would be placed 4th in the ranking above (however the ranking has some caveats that I discuss below). The figure of employment of the Madrid cluster (35,000) is not the same as that provided by TEDAE (industry only) in its 2013 report for the region of Madrid (the 43.9% shown in the map referred to the aeronautics sector only (~41,000 employees of the ~51,000 working in aerospace and defence) and yields a figure of 18,000 employees).
  • In the ranking the main other two Spanish clusters, HEGAN and HELICE (from the Basque country and Andalusia) are reported as very close to each other in terms of employment, however, as seen in the map from TEDAE, the Andalusian aeronautics industry represents a 29% of the national one, whereas the basque one a lower 10%. I guess that the reported figures in EACP from HELICE refer mainly to industry figures (or that the research centres mentioned do not employ many workers) and that HEGAN ones include a considerable figure of researchers.
  • The main caveats:
    • there are several clusters of which employment figures are not provided in the EACP report, in particular, the clusters from the UK (which as seen above is the second largest aerospace industry in Europe with over 128,000 employees; one or several regions from the UK would be placed high up in a regional ranking), the cluster from Paris region (recall that it represents 28% of the French aerospace employment as per GIFAS), other Italian clusters apart from Torino.
    • there are no Swedish or Dutch clusters among the members of EACP, and therefore no info is included either in the report or the table above, and we saw that those 2 countries are among the leading 7 European aerospace industries. Certainly a Swedish and or Dutch cluster would rank high in the list.
    • As reported above, the reported figures of the different clusters seem not to be consistent with each others, some reporting mainly industry employment whereas others include high numbers of researchers from other institutions than industry.

This post was intended mainly to share some sources above, make a review of some of the main figures of European aerospace industry and its regions. Hopefully the next time that I take a look into it I may find a European-wide report as consistent and detailed as that of GIFAS.

(1) Recall that Airbus plant in Toulouse is the biggest factory in France as I commented in this other post, where I included a map with the largest 100 factories from the French industrial weekly “L’Usine nouvelle”.

(2) As an example, on top of industry, the EACP report includes the following research institutes within the French “Aerospace Valley” cluster: Bordeaux University, CEA/CESTA, CEA TECH, CERFACS, CNES, CNRS, Ecoles des Mines d’Albi-Carmaux, INP Toulouse, INRIA, ONERA, Toulouse University… up to 80 research institutions.

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Terre des hommes (Wind, Sand and Stars)

terreTerre des hommes (of which English version was titled “Wind, Sand and Stars”, and apparently differs greatly from the French version which I read) is a compilation book of some memories of the aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, of his time at the airmail carrier l’Aéropostale.The book was published in 1939, two years later he received the US National Book Award for this book. His most known book, “Le Petit Prince“, was published a few years later, in 1943.

Saint-Exupery failed to enter to Naval Academy and started studies of Fine Arts, which he did not finish. While doing his military service, he took flying lessons and there he discovered his passion. He flew first for the French Air Force, then he was a pioneer in the international postal flight, flying for the Aéropostale between Toulouse and Dakar, and later other lines. Those were years in which aviation differed very much to what it is today, and that is reflected in “Terre des Hommes“, where he pays tribute to some of his colleagues, mainly Henri Guillaumet and Jean Mermoz, and he shares some experiences which seem today unbelievable.Those years at Latécoère (which airline later became L’Aeropostale) must have been truly remarkable.

Henri Guillaumet was another pioneer of French aviation who contributed to the opening of airmail routes through the South Atlantic and the Andes. He was said to be one of the best pilots of his time, “Je n’en ai pas connu de plus grand” (I’ve never known a greater one), said Didier Daurat, director of l’Aéropostale.

Guillaumet taught Saint-Exupéry how to see the land they flew over, noticing every minor detail, every tree, corner of a river, and getting to know the locals, their farms, etc., as that was the ground he would have to land on given the case:

“Mais quelle étrange leçon de géographie je reçus la! Guillaumet ne m’enseignait pas l’Espagne ; il me faisait de l’Espagne une amie. Il ne me parlait ni d’hydrographie, ni de populations, ni de cheptel. Il ne me parlait pas de Guadix, mais des trois orangers qui, près de Guadix, bordent un champ : «Méfie-toi d’eux, marque-les sur ta carte… ».”

Jean Mermoz, another French aviation pioneer, first flew for the Air Force and then for Latécoère. It is famous the quote from Daurat who, after Mermoz performed his entry flying exam, he told Mermoz “We don’t need acrobats here, we need bus drivers.” Of Mermoz, Saint-Exupéry describes when he was captured in Africa or how he opened routes through the Andes.

“Quelques camarades, dont Mermoz, fondèrent la ligne française de Casablanca à Dakar, à travers le Sahara insoumis. Les moteurs d’alors ne résistant guère, une panne livra Mermoz aux Maures ; ils hésitèrent à le massacrer, le gardèrent quinze jours prisonnier, puis le revendirent. Et Mermoz reprit ses courriers au-dessus des mêmes territoires.

Lorsque s’ouvrit la ligne d’Amérique, Mermoz toujours avant-garde, fut chargé d’étudier le tronçon Buenos Aires à Santiago, et après un pont sur le Sahara, de bâtir un pont au-dessus des Andes. On lui confia un avion qui plafonnait à cinq mille deux cents mètres. Les crêtes de la Cordillère s’élèvent a sept mille mètres. Et Mermoz décolla pour chercher des trouées.”

There are two stories in the book which are breathtaking. The first one describes a crash Guillaumet suffered in the middle of the snow-covered Andes. He crashed in the middle of a storm and once on ground, he covered himself with the postal bags for 48 hours. As there would be no one coming to pick him, he then walked for 5 days and 4 nights (without ropes, axes, food supplies, or any other equipment for the hike). In those moments, he only wanted to get some sleep but he kept telling to himself that his wife and his friends, all hoped for him to continue walking and he could not let them down. To keep himself awake he thought of movies or books and tried to mentally review them in his mind from end to end. However at some point he fell down and was not capable to stand up again.

“[…] semblable au boxer qui, vide d’un coup de toute passion, entend les secondes tomber une à une dans un univers étranger, jusqu’à la dixième qui est sans appel.”

But then, he suddenly thought that in the case of a disappearance the legal death would be established four years later and this would impede his wife to immediately receive the compensation from the insurance policy. This gave him the will to continue walking just for 50 more meters until there was a great rock where his body would be clearly visible the following summer.

“«Si je me relève, je pourrai peut-être l’atteindre. Et si je me cale mon corps contre la pierre, l’été venu on le retrouvera.»

Une fois debout, tu marcha deux nuits et trois jours.”

He stood up and continued walking, not only for 50 metres but for 2 days and 3 nights more and he saved his life.

“«Ce qui sauve, c’est de faire un pas. Encore un pas. C’est toujours le même pas que l’on recommence…»”

f-anry-2The second story is from Saint-Exupéry himself, when, together with his mechanic, departed from Senegal to Egypt. The last lap would take them from Benghazi (Libya) to Cairo. During that flight they suffered some engine issue which started with heavy vibrations and finally ended in a crash. This time was not in the snow-covered Andes, but in the middle of the desert (close to Simoun). Again, nobody would come immediately after them. Saint-Exupéry started to make some estimates of whether they would find them in 8 days if they had flown straight or in 6 months if they had suffered some drift (derive), and where to walk to try to be closer to civilization.

In that situation he remembered the words and the example from Guillaumet and he pushed himself one step at a time. It is daunting to read how in the night he buried himself in the sand to keep the warmth of his body.

«Je creuse une fosse dans le sable, je m’y couche, et je me recouvre de sable. Mon visage seul émerge

Four days later, four days of thirst, hunger and lack of sleep, they were found by two Bedouins with camels in the desert in Libya.

The figure of Saint-Exupéry is today of worldly fame and I believe that one has to read this book (1) to really know who he was.

***

(1) Apart from “Le Petit Prince“, which I commented here, I have also read his “Vol de nuit” and “Pilote de guerre“, which are short novels based on experiences very close to what he lived and described in “Terre des Hommes“.

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The most (and least) read of the first 600 posts

And with this entry the blog reaches 600 posts, a good number to make a recap to see which were the most and least read of the first 600 posts. (1)

Since I started the blog in February 2010, the blog has received over 280,000 visits and hundreds of comments.

Find below the list of the top 10 and bottom 10 posts:

1. Impuestos en Francia vs. España

2. Mi adiós a Ibercaja

3. Will Boeing 787 ever break-even?

4. Monaco GP Walking Tour

5. 787 Break Even for Dummies

6. Impuestos en Francia vs. España (actualización 2012)

7. Beluga vs. Dreamlifter

8. Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2012)

9. Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2013)

10. Patek Philippe Caliber 89

490. Ailes Anciennes Toulouse, Visites Cockpit (April 2016)

491. Special assistance vs. free ride

492. Kronborg castle and Hamlet

493. Musee Mecanique (San Francisco)

494. Flight excursion to Najac

495. Lincoln and U. S. Grant on the preservation of the Union

496. “Caimaneando”

497. The Spirit of St. Louis (book review)

498. Aerospace, a high-tech sector in Spain

499. Museu do Futebol (São Paulo)

As a curiosity, see below the evolution of the visits to the top 10 blog posts per year:

views-per-post-per-year-600

Let’s see what I’ll write about in the next 100 posts…

(1) I wrote four such posts when I reached the first 100200300, 400 and 500 posts in the blog.

NOTE: the box in the right showing “Current Top Posts” shows the most read ones in the last two days, not the all-time most read ones (the ones above).

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