Aerospace Industry in Sofia
The Global Development of the Aerospace Industry
- Space Industry: Currently a 400-billion-dollar industry, which is expected to grow two- or threefold in the next 25 years.
- Aviation: The demand for passenger travel is increasing. This led to the record high backlog of 14,215 commercial aircraft units at the end of 2017. In September 2019, Airbus increased its forecast as it expects that 39 210 aircraft will be needed in the next 20 years.
- Aerospace creates technological innovations. The industry is popular for spinning off its breakthrough technologies into commercial products.
- The industry integrates advanced technologies from multiple sectors like mechanical engineering, computer science, electronics and materials.
Why the Aerospace Sector is a Great Opportunity for Sofia
- Aerospace is a high value-added industry. High-end R&D talent constitutes 20% of its workforce.
- Sofia has a developed IT sector and a significant R&D capacity.
- The city already has multiple companies, operating in the sector.
- The European Space Agency (ESA) allocates around € 3.5 billion annually through auctions. You can learn more about the EU space policy here.
Production and maintenance facilities for civil aircraft in Bulgaria were mostly founded after the year 2000.
The flagman of the industry is Lufthansa Technik AG in Sofia. Due to the exceptional skill set and professionalism of the Bulgarian mechanics, the facility quickly became the company’s largest in Europe and is currently serving over 80 airlines. The company has invested over €100 mil. and employs 1100 people. Except for its 8 repair lines, Lufthansa Technik AG also founded its second incubator in Sofia after the one in Hamburg. Another aircraft maintenance company, the Bulgarian Rose Air opened 3 repair lines in Sofia in 2013 to serve Europe’s largest carriers.
The new production plant by the French Latecoere will invest €11 mil., creating 175 jobs by 2020. The plant will build elements for the doors of the Airbus 320 and 330 aircraft, as well as other equipment.
Since 2016, the American company Woodward, Inc. has a factory near Sofia Airport. The company produces components that control the fuel system and the propulsion mechanisms of the aircraft.
- Sofia University has the following bachelor tracks: B.Sc. Quantum and Physical Electronics, B.Sc. Astrophysics, Meteorology and Geophysics, B.Sc. Nuclear and Particle Physics (in English). You can see the full list here.
- Sofia University offers a wider variety of master tracks, including the M.Sc. Aerospace Engineering and Communications (Bulgarian, English or Russian). The program consists of two modules: Aerospace Engineering (small aerospace vehicles) & Wireless and Satellite Communications. Other programs are M.Sc. Astronomy and Astrophysics, M.Sc. Geophysics, M.Sc. Methodology of Physics and Astronomy, etc. You can see the full list here.
- The Technical University of Sofia offers B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Aeronautical Engineering (in English), B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Aviation Equipment and Technologies, and many others. See a full list of the bachelor tracks here and the master tracks here.
- One of the biggest educational programs for space science in Europe is located in Sofia. Space Challenges is a free 4-week program that involves leading experts from ESA, NASA, Stanford University and others. The program fosters entrepreneurship in the space industry.
Did you know that…
- There were three aircraft production sites in Bulgaria in 1925-1954. They designed 40 prototypes and constructed approx. 1000 aircraft.
- Bulgarian scientists first started participating in space research in the late 1960s.
- Bulgaria is the 6th nation to send an astronaut in space and the only CEE country with two astronauts.
- A Bulgarian manufacturer is IATA’s (International Air Transport Association) first strategic partner in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) sector.
- Bulgaria is one of the biggest manufacturers of “space” food, which is being used by many space programs across the world.
- According to a 2013 study by the European Commission (.pdf), Bulgarians are the biggest proponents of EU space exploration activities, as 43% marked it as fairly important and 24% – as very important.