“I am proactive in building a Europe of defence, but I am not naive”

On Tuesday, April 12, the Airbus general meeting renewed Guillaume Faury, 54, for three years as executive chairman, which he has held since 2019. If the group is known for being the world number one in commercial aviation, it is also a major actor. in defense, the eleventh in a market dominated by the Americans. Faced with the geopolitical upheaval, Faury insists on the urgency of equipping ourselves with a European security and defense system and launching major cooperation programs.

What will the new geopolitical agreement created by the war in Ukraine change for the Airbus group?

The situation has changed. The war was theoretical, it has become very concrete and threatening. This puts the urgency of equipping ourselves with a European security and defense system for citizens, but also with common values, at the center of the game. This awareness is much stronger, especially in Germany and Eastern Europe. We are moving towards more Europe of defense, and faster, although its construction has already been accelerated for several years. Europeans will be able to defend themselves on their own if they develop a defense industry at the highest level in the world.

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In the immediate future, do you expect a strong increase in orders?

There will be defense orders, and I hope as few as possible outside of Europe. To achieve this, we must constrain ourselves and launch programs at the service of sovereignty, of the autonomy of European capacities. Sometimes it is easier to buy abroad; it does not build capacity over time. Germany’s recent purchase of American F-35s is a good example of a lack of program continuity. In the 1980s, Berlin was equipped with the Tornado, an aircraft made by Germany, Italy and the UK. Unfortunately, we did not build the European solution for this specific nuclear mission. [de transport de la bombe américaine dans le cadre de l’OTAN, qui sera remplie par le F-35]. When we do programs, we contribute to building the defense industry; when you buy off the shelf, say in the US, you weaken it, even if certain capabilities don’t exist in Europe, like heavy transport helicopters.

It has been criticized for choosing a non-European engine for the Eurodrone, one of Airbus’ main programs…

Today, there is no national drone solution in Europe. This is proof that without cooperation there can be no sovereign capacity in Europe. About the engine, it is a false debate. We are convinced that we made the right choice with the Italian Avio. [préféré au français Safran], which is a European company, with an American shareholder, General Electric. Avio offers a solution that meets a requirement of independence, in terms of design, production and certification in Europe. We made an industrial choice. Sometimes when political constraints have weighed too heavily, they have led to poor industrial decisions. And we have long paid the price!

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