Catalan aerospace industry grows with plans of new park
The county of Baix Llobregat located just south of Barcelona is fighting the crisis with plans to expand its aerospace sector. A new park aims to become the new mobility and logistics pole in Catalonia.
Viladecans (CNA).- El Baix Llobregat, a county whose population was hit hard by the crisis because of its dependency on the automotive industry, now must recycle its production model. For this reason, the region is looking into forming a link between their damaged car industry and their aeronautic industry. The Catalan Government hopes to generate some 10 poles of attraction throughout Catalonia for foreign investment dealing with both logistics and mobility. In this sense, a project has been proposed in Viladecans for an aerospace park. The park’s proximity to the UPC campus, a newly expanded airport and one of the largest harbours in Southern Europe could promote its success.
The mobility and logistics pole of the Delta del Llobregat is one of 10 that the Catalan Government is trying to promote to foreign investors interested in qualified and innovative projects.
The industrial county of Baix Llobregat has recently been affected by widespread layoffs, leaving 38,956 people unemployed. The crisis hit the automotive industry of the region hard, as Nissan operates in the south, and SEAT in the north. When many factories began to close, it became clear that there would be a need to generate new jobs.
As early as 2003 and 2004, the Catalan Government started promoting the Aerospace and Mobility Park in an area of 50 hectares in the south of Viladecans. They did this through the Catalan Institute of Land (Incasòl), which in 2006 formed a consortium with Viladecans’ City Hall to begin the construction of the industrial site that would contain two metro stops and a total of 350,000 square metres to carry out industrial activities.
Jordi Angusto, the president of the Park’s executive committee, hopes to develop three installations within the park. The park is planned to have a centre of excellence in the investigation of unmanned flights, a wind tunnel for aerodynamic tests, and a technological platform to develop different investigations that could help businesses in the sector.
These three infrastructures, according to Angusto, will be the “hardware” of the new pole. The “software” will be the Aerospace Technology Centre (CTAE). The CTAE is a private foundation funded by the Catalan Government, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) as well as diverse private businesses. With 25 employees from around the world, they develop innovative projects and, above all, try to set an example of how a specialised business in the sector of aeronautic innovation can profit from an environment like that of the new park.
Angusto defended that the new aviation sector should not substitute the car industry, but complement it. Angusto also stated, “We need public funds” for these projects, taking into consideration that in this time of economic crisis it will be more complicated to obtain funding.
When the park is finished, the pole for logistics and mobility will be able to grow both with the old auto factories and alongside the great infrastructures of transport in Catalonia.