Tereza Vítková
CzechTrade México
Expert Contributor

Czech Companies Stand Out at FAMEX

By Tereza Vítková | Wed, 10/20/2021 - 13:03

Although the Czech Republic has just about 11 million inhabitants, it belongs to the group of only nine countries in the world that can develop and construct an aircraft within their territory. Furthermore, together with other six countries in the world, we can manufacture an airplane’s engine. All these firsts are the result of our long-standing tradition — more than 100 years — in the aviation industry.

In the territory of the Czech Republic, there are more than 150 companies operating in this field, with a combined annual turnover of US$1.9 trillion. More than 25,000 employees work in this field. Alongside world-famous local companies, such as Aero Vodochody, LET Aircraft Industries or PBS Velka Bites, a few multinational companies can be found there, including GE Aviation (the largest design and production center worldwide), Honeywell (R&D center, international center and production plant), Bell (in 2016, the center expanded with the first European paint facility) and Safran (with a production facility since 2001; in 2018, Zodiac Aerospace and Safran merged and turned Pilsen into a vital part of the global development of innovations for the aviation industry).

Even though our territory is equal in size to the Mexican state of Jalisco, world-famous and successful companies are setting their footprint there, amazing the whole world with their products. We are not a nation that speaks highly of its successes (which is a shame because there are many). The CzechTrade Mexico office, however, is trying to change that. CzechTrade is a government agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. It has international offices in more than 50 countries worldwide, including Mexico.

For many of our companies, Europe is “small” and they crave growth through new challenges, including the Mexican market, with its 130 million consumers and well beyond European borders: almost 10,000km from the Czech Republic and separated by a seven-hour time difference. These are exactly the companies that participated in FAMEX 2021, Mexico’s international air and space show that was held in September this year.

The main task of our office is to support Czech exports abroad and we use many means to do that, such as the organization of Czech pavilions during local industry shows. We built one for FAMEX 2021, an event in which the Czech Republic has participated from the very first year. FAMEX is the biggest aviation fair in Latin America, focused on the civilian and military industries, space, security and defense. The goal is to interconnect international leaders in the field and to support the development of the aviation industry in Mexico. The partner country for this fourth edition of FAMEX was the US.

This year, approximately 300 companies participated in five pavilions and despite the ongoing pandemic and the fact that the fair was moved from the original location in Queretaro to the Santa Lucia military base close to Mexico City just a couple of weeks before the event, it attracted a great many visitors. For the Czech Republic, this year’s FAMEX represented many firsts including the fact that it had the highest number of Czech companies participating to date, meaning the Czech Republic could boast the biggest stand.

This year, Latin America was introduced to the companies from the Czechoslovak Group, in particular from its CSG Aerospace division, for the first time ever. From this division, representatives from RETIA and its business division ReDat, ELDIS Pardubice, CS SOFT and Excalibur International were present at the Czech stand. Further, the Czech companies Zlin Aircraft and VRgineers presented themselves at the fair. RETIA is involved in the development, production and integration of radar systems. At FAMEX, it presented its internationally-known and successful radar ReTWis (a small portable radar that can detect living creatures behind a wall or a non-iron barrier) and a new radar, ReGUARD, which is a 3D short-reach radar that can detect land targets and slow, low-flying targets from a small take-off area, such as drones. The company ReDat, on the other hand, develops voice and data recording systems, which it analyses automatically and sells to the end user in a structured form. Another company, ELDIS Pardubice, focuses on the development and the production of overview and approach radars for air traffic management. Its specialization is with airports, where a fitting solution can be offered. The company CS SOFT has more than 40 years’ experience in the field of ATM solutions and its strength is in software systems for air traffic management and 2D and 3D simulators for the training of air traffic controllers.

All these companies work in both the civil and military spheres. Somewhat different, Excalibur International (EXINT) is an export agency that promotes not only companies of the Czechoslovak Group but other partner companies. It supports 60 companies from the Czech and the Slovak republics. A traditional participant in FAMEX is the company Zlin Aircraft, a Czech aircraft manufacturer (training, acrobatic and multifunctional) for civil and military use. Tens of Zlin 242 aircraft are used by the Mexican Navy and they can also be found at the Naval Aviation School in la Paz. The company VRgineers amazed the fair visitors with its professional virtual reality glasses, XTAL, which is the world’s leader in this segment. The VR headset is used by engineers, architects, and designers, although they can be adapted to train pilots. NASA, the US Air Force, US Navy, Audi and BMW are among its clients.

During FAMEX, a networking session took place on the second day, where Zdenek Kubanek, ambassador of the Czech Republic in Mexico and FAMEX President Gen. Cesar Tapia Jiménez participated. Furthermore, representatives of the Mexican Air Force, air traffic control, the Mexican Space Agency and other senior officials of the Army and Navy visited the Czech stand.

FAMEX reasserted the good relationship between Mexico and the Czech Republic in the field of aviation and defense. The relationship was empowered in 2019 by the signing of a memorandum for cooperation between the ministries of defence of both countries. In this memorandum, Mexico reasserted the privileged position of the Czech Republic as a priority country for the purchase of defense and security equipment. From a historical point of view, Mexico continues to be a leading business partner for the Czech Republic within the Latin America – more than a half of Czech exports into the region is destined for Mexico and the average annual turnaround in mutual business is around US$1.6 billion.

Photo by:   Tereza Vitková