Mexico's Aerospace Industry: History and Integration

One thing that unites the states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Sonora, and Queretaro is their status as major hubs for aerospace investment thanks to their productive vocation in high-zone manufacturing activities.

Mexico's Aerospace Industry: History and Integration
The Development and Integration of Mexico's Aerospace Sector. Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

Baja California, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Sonora, and Queretaro have one thing in common: their productive vocation in high-zone industrial activities, which has positioned them as the primary investment centers for the aircraft sector. The Mexican aerospace industry has been related to continual innovation and the development of new technologies and materials, emphasizing the high level of specialization of Mexican technicians and engineers taught since 1937.

Currently, the country has 21 educational institutions offering 52 aeronautical programs. Basic and technical education, as well as highly specialized undergraduate and graduate degrees, are all available. Mexico has been one of the world's leading recipients of investment in the aerospace manufacturing industry, as well as one of the most important recipients of investment in engineering, research, and development, over the last few decades. Today, the country is the sixth largest aerospace supplier to the United States.

Mexico's Aerospace Industry: Regional Clusters and their Impact on Innovation and Growth

Another measure of the sector's success is the increase in the number of aerospace firms founded in the country. This expansion has been achieved through regional clusters spread over 18 states of the Republic, which employ more than 34 thousand people.

The majority of these economic units are spread throughout five states: Baja California, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Sonora, and Querétaro. Mexico has developed its vocation as a high-value manufacturing, engineering, and development hub through them. This is due to the technological sophistication of its exports, the availability of engineering talent, and the quality and competitiveness of its workforce.

In terms of aerospace production costs, Mexico is the most competitive country in the hemisphere. Another aspect that puts it in this position is the legal framework in existence, which protects industrial property and ensures the correct use of commodities produced and exported.

The goal is to make the country a destination for the entire aircraft life cycle: design and engineering, manufacturing of parts and components, maintenance, aircraft assembly and recycling, and conversion.

A regional plan was devised to identify and support the growth of productive professions through aerospace clusters to accomplish this. The goal is to generate competitiveness clusters, which are high-level innovation and articulation ecosystems that boost regional development by harmoniously combining multiple industries, promoting innovation, collaboration, and competition.

Within promoting these clusters, companies get access to a bigger network of suppliers, specialized support services, sources of talent, and access to knowledge, technology, or markets, among other benefits. All of this is in the hopes of recruiting other comparable and related businesses. The major clusters in the country, according to ProMéxico, are Baja California (76 firms), Chihuahua (42), Sonora (50), Querétaro (30), and Nuevo León (28). Each region is described in detail below.

Baja California: A Fusion of Culture, History, and Multiculturalism

Archaeological evidence suggests that men arrived in Baja California circa 10,000 B.C. via the Bering Strait from Asia. Historians claim that Fortún Jiménez, serving under Hernán Cortés, was the first European to set foot on peninsular land in 1533. For a long time, the entity was cut off from the rest of the country and virtually deserted, save for a few small villages.

The true phase of integration with the rest of the national territory began in 1936, and it was not until 1952 that it was elevated to statehood. Baja California is an intriguing entity in that it features both huge cities and a plethora of little communities. Furthermore, it is a fusion of the modern and the indigenous. Cultural elements from throughout the country are blended with their own, resulting in an intriguing cultural and artisan activity.

The migration began in the 1950s, when people from all over the country, as well as from countries such as Germany, France, and China, among others, arrived in the territory, a process that hasn't stopped and has turned the area into a multicultural one. Some of the state's contemporary writers include Daniel Sada, Rafael Saavedra, Heriberto Yépez, and Federico Campbell. Elsa Cárdenas, Carla Morrison, and Julieta Venegas are also notable.

Baja California's Thriving Aerospace Industry: Exports, KPO, and Talent

Baja California's aerospace sector began with manufacturing activity more than four decades ago. It currently has 76 firms with yearly exports of 1,533 million dollars. The majority of them are received by the United States, with the remainder going to countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, among others.

It is the primary export destination for high-value knowledge-based services (KPO, its acronym in English for Knowledge Process Outsourcing). It has one of the largest enrollments of engineering and technology students in the country (24,000); a huge opportunity, considering the worldwide aerospace industry's manpower shortage.

It is part of the Calibaja binational region, which includes the counties of San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Baja California. Because of its location and ease of access, as well as the availability of talent, and intellectual and scientific resources, the area provides unique potential.

The Rich History and Culture of Chihuahua, Mexico

The early settlers of Chihuahua, like most of northern Mexico, belonged to nomadic and semi-nomadic ethnic groups that left little or no sign of their existence when the conquistadors arrived. The Tarahumara, Tepehuanes, Tubas, Jumiles, Pimas, Conchos, Salineros, Guarijios, and Chisos are among the most notable groups to have occupied the region.

The archaeological sites of Paquimé and Cuarenta Casas are among the rare remaining relics of several of these cultures, and they represent the country's most important pre-Hispanic history in the north. In 1811, some of the key leaders of the Mexican Revolution were assassinated within the borders of Chihuahua: Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Ignacio Allende, Mariano Jiménez, and Juan Aldama. The area was granted statehood in 1824.

During the Mexican Revolution, Chihuahua was associated with two major revolutionary leaders: Francisco Villa and Pascual Orozco. On November 14, 1910, the first armed rebellion for this cause took place in the village of Cuchillo Parado. This entity offered Mexico one of its most famous Mexican muralists, David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). Germán Genaro Cipriano Gómez Valdés Castillo, commonly known as Tin Tan (1915-1973), is another notable Mexican comic from the golden period of the national film.

Some modern literature exponents are Carlos Montemayor (1947-2010), Jesus Gardea (1939-2000), and José Vicente Anaya (1947-). Arturo Rosenblueth (1900-1970), a Mexican researcher, physician, and physiologist who is regarded as one of the pioneers of cybernetics, was also a Chihuahua native.

Chihuahua's Growing Aerospace Industry: OEMs, Suppliers, and Exports

Due to its industrial and advanced manufacturing capacity, Chihuahua is one of the entities with the greatest development and potential in the aerospace sector. It has five original equipment manufacturers and/or assemblers (OEMs): Cessna and Beechcraft, which are emerging as a single company; Textron International Mexico; Honeywell Aerospace; and EZ Air Interior Limited; in addition to 37 certified suppliers.

It generates more than 13 thousand direct jobs. Its exports exceed one billion dollars. Its destinations are the United States, Germany, France, and Canada. Chihuahua has important engineering and design centers, mainly formed by Safran Group, Zodiac Aerospace, and Honeywell Aerospace, among other international consortiums.

Sonora, Mexico: A Land Rich in History and Traditions

Sonora has undergone significant historical changes in the country and has had a role in major revolutionary events. It was formed as a federative body in 1830, but it lost a significant portion of its territory in 1847 when war was declared with the United States and the Treaty of La Mesilla was signed.

During the Reform period, the state was invaded by the French troops and fought the famous Battle of El Alamo. Years later, it was recognized as the birthplace of the Mexican Revolution since it was the site of the first workers' movement, the Cananea strike in 1906, which inspired the Rio Blanco strike in the state of Veracruz and subsequently the armed conflict of 1910 when the Mexican Revolution began.

The Agua Prieta Plan was devised in 1929 by Sonora's generals Alvaro Obregón, Abelardo L. Rodrguez, Benjamin Hill, and Plutarco Elias Calles against President Venustiano Carranza. From that year on, four Sonorans presided over the Republic: Adolfo de la Huerta and Alvaro Obregón in 1920, Plutarco Elias Calles in 1924, and Abelardo L. Rodrguez in 1932.

Sonora's history is filled with chapters about a people rich in traditions, labor, and resilience in the face of natural adversities. Many musical authors have drawn inspiration from this. This country gave birth to the singer and actor Luis Aguilar (1918-1997), one of the greatest exponents of the golden period of national cinema; the romantic poet Manuel Acuña (1849-1873); and the poet and dramatist Abigael Bohórquez (1936-1995).

Sonora's Aerospace Industry: A Leader in Machining and Composite Materials

Sonora is home to one of the most important and integrated aeronautical machining clusters in the country, which makes it a center of excellence for the manufacture of blades and components for turbines and aero engines. It is committed to the complexity and technology related to composite materials, as well as aerostructures, and to the availability of special processes such as lost wax casting, die casting, sand casting, and heat treatments, among others. Sonora is home to 50 companies and support entities in the aerospace sector.

Querétaro: A State with a Rich History and Rapid Modern Development

Querétaro is one of Mexico's smallest states, although it has experienced significant historical events. The first pre-Hispanic mining towns were created in the Sierra Gorda, leaving their mark on the Ranas and Toluquilla structures. The Chichimecas occupied the region about the year 1200, eventually giving place to the Purépechas.

During the Viceroyalty, Santiago de Querétaro was the third most important city and the axis of the Silver Route, which sent caravans loaded with wealth from the northern mines inside the kingdom's borders to the capital. Furthermore, the sheep ranches and textile industry distinguished the city by the high quality of its products.

The vast sums of money invested were responsible for the city's makeover. Fountains, gardens, villas, and lavish baroque temples with gold interiors were constructed. This organization was a vital cog in the independence movement. It was the breeding ground for characters such as leader Josefa Ortiz, her husband Miguel Dominguez, and Epigmenio González, among others. The scream of struggle and freedom that signaled the start of the War of Independence was detonated here.

Querétaro had an important role during the Second Empire and the Reform War. The Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty was signed in this state, as were clashes between Republican and Imperial soldiers and the execution of Maximilian of Habsburg. With the signing and promulgation of the 1917 Constitution in the Theater of the Republic, the national identity was eternally defined.

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, Querétaro evolved alongside the rest of the country, incorporating technical breakthroughs in transportation and communications into daily life and broadening the diversity of its population and economic activity. The state's expansion has been particularly extraordinary in recent decades, giving rise to new products and tourist centers and strengthening the state's distinct position on the national stage.

Queretaro's Strategic Role in the Global Aerospace Industry

Queretaro is considered a strategic point for the global aerospace industry due to the attraction of important investments in recent years. Some of the most strategic projects for the sector have been developed here, including the Aeronautical University in Queretaro, the Aeronautical Test and Technology Laboratory, and the Aerocluster.

It offers opportunities for new investments in aeronautical operations under adequate infrastructure and optimal business conditions, especially those aimed at complementing the supply chain in complex machining processes, surface coatings, heat treatments, rolling mills, forging, and casting.

The main exports are concentrated in goods for the assembly or manufacture of aircraft or aircraft parts, turbojets with thrust greater than 25 kN, landing gears and their parts, and goods for the repair or maintenance of aircraft or aircraft parts. Querétaro has 30 aerospace companies and support entities.

Nuevo Leon: A State with a Strong Manufacturing History and Diverse Cultural Influences

Manufacturing development in Nuevo León began in the mid-nineteenth century, with the establishment of some of the major textile, beer, and steel enterprises. Their rapid evolution led them to diversify into other sectors such as glass, metalworking, and cement, giving birth to other important companies and educational institutions such as the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), and Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM), establishing the state as one of the main leaders in the training of professionals in these fields.

Nuevo León's culture is heavily influenced by Jewish, Germanic, and Slavic elements, in addition to Spanish and Mexican influences shared by the rest of the country. Some traditions of its original Jewish immigrants, such as traditional recipes based on the child, dried meat, and Semitic bread, have been preserved in the city. The main traditional events in the state include the Villaseca Fair, held in the municipality of Linares at the end of July, the Apple Fair in Santiago, and the Guadalupe Livestock Exposition.

Nuevo León's Aerospace Industry: A Tradition of High-Value Manufacturing

Nuevo León is home to 28 aviation enterprises that primarily sell to the United States and Canada. In the last five years, the sector's exports have increased steadily. The majority of the businesses are wholly owned by Mexicans. It boasts success stories like FRISA, a Mexican high-tech firm that has gained inroads into the worldwide market by placing its forged rings with the world's major aircraft engine manufacturers.

Sources: Comercio Exterior No.3