Boeing 737MAX and a LEAP engine with Mexican-made parts. Boeing 737MAX and a LEAP engine: Mexican-made parts.

Aerospace firm opens 6th plant in Querétaro

The French company Safran now has 19 factories in Mexico and more are coming

French aerospace company Safran officially opened its sixth plant in Querétaro this week, bringing its total number of Mexican factories to 19, but there are even more in the pipeline.


The company will make turbine blades for the LEAP jet engine at the new US $100-million facility located in the Querétaro Aerospace Park.

The plant is a joint venture with the United States-based company Albany International and is expected to be producing 20,000 fan blades a year by 2021.

At the inauguration ceremony, Querétaro Governor Francisco Domínguez revealed that Safran will also invest a further US $25 million to build another plant in the state.

In addition, sources with knowledge of the company’s plans told the newspaper El Financiero that yet another plant designed to supply the newest factory would also follow.

Federal Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza highlighted that Mexico already exports airplane parts worth more than US $7 billion annually and the industry is growing at an average rate of 17%.

Safran CEO Phillip Petitcolin, who also attended the opening event, said that Mexico was just getting started in the sector and that it would eventually grow at an even faster pace.


In an interview with El Financiero, Petitcolin said that the company had chosen Querétaro for its newest plant because it is already established there.

He explained that one of its Querétaro plants makes key components for engines and another manufactures landing gear parts, adding that the company also has three maintenance workshops in the state.

Petitcolin said that all new Boeing 737 MAX airplanes and 60% of Airbus A320neo planes will be equipped with the new LEAP engines and therefore require the blades that will be produced in the Querétaro plant.

Asked what changes he sees in Mexico’s capacity in the sector compared to 20 years ago, the CEO said the Querétaro government had introduced specialist training programs for the aerospace industry that were particularly beneficial for Safran.

“. . . There are students that will go through the school for training and they will be very well qualified from the first day they arrive at our plants,” he said, adding: “In Chihuahua and Tijuana, we don’t have that yet.”

Responding to a question that alluded to potential risks arising from a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, Petitcolin said that he didn’t foresee greater risks in Mexico than in other countries where the company has plants.

“[If] you have to pay taxes, you pay them, and if there is a customs duty between one country and another, you pay it. But this risk exists in many places where we’ve decided to establish competitive plants,” he said.

Safran recently acquired Zodiac, another French aerospace company, a move that Petitcolin said will bring even more benefits and employment to Mexico.

“We have the same needs and I believe that this company will bring even more opportunities to Mexico in the future . . . Mexico is one of the best places [to manufacture] the kind of products that we make,” he said.

However, the CEO stressed that Mexico is not just a labor supplier.

“We do engineering work here, we do a lot of maintenance, repair and operations [MRO] work. We need very capable and talented people to repair motors or undercarriages. We’re not only in the manufacturing stage in Mexico, we’re in the next stage,” Petitcolin said.

“I really like Mexico. Ten years ago, we used to compare China and Mexico in the aerospace sector . . . China is very good, but the Chinese put into practice what you tell them to, they do the work. In Mexico . . . they want to show you that they can do it even better. That’s a great advantage for Mexico,” he remarked.

Source: El Financiero (sp), Reuters (en)

Stories from our archives that you might enjoy

  • WestCoastHwy

    “Federal Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza
    highlighted that Mexico already exports airplane parts worth more than
    US $7 billion annually and the industry is growing at an average rate of

    Excuse me, Mexico builds plane parts…….sorry, it specifically says the French/USA builds plane parts, Mexicans only are use for cheap labor. Lets keep the story straight “Wanna “Be’s”

    If Mexico want to start using it’s own people to build things, well it better start with improving it’s educational systems. After that, it’s Judicial systems, Security systems, Political systems, Oh hell, just start from scratch!

    • Mike S

      As usual WCH, you,re just popping off with your hatred of Mexico without any facts. These are decent paying jobs and many required engineering degrees and advanced training. Mexican aeronautical industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Foreign investment is pouring in as Mexico tries to diversity from dependency on US with its bigoted buffoon like Trump in power. Aero exports will be over $25 billion by 2020. Mexican universities graduate lots of top notch engineers. Trump may go down in history as the president who “lost” Mexico and Canada and the millions of high-paid US jobs that depend on our $580 billion trade relation with Mexico. Trump thinks Mexico will pay for his wall with tariffs. Sadly it is US consumers and workers who will pay for that $1.4 trillion dollar tax gift to the 1%…not Mexico..

      • WestCoastHwy

        Please understand I do not hate Mexico, but I do detest Mexican. You are taking my comment out of context which I may question your cognitive ability.

  • Ge0ffrey

    There’s money in Queretaro. It’s a lovely town, too.