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Portugal is currently considered an innovation centre and an important strategic partner in the technology area - a growth rate of 2,6 % in the last year; hosting worldwide events like the Web Summit (which in his 2018 edition had over 55000 participant’s from 163 countries); Portugal is ranked as the top 25th country where to have business; a strategic geographic location, along with excellent linguistic and academic competencies, first class TI infrastructures, overall good logistics and top ranked universities.

The development of the aeronautical sector is intrinsically dependent on international cooperation, like in all other sectors, that implies a strong technological complexity. In fact, none of the European member states can on its own face the need for high investment in education/training and technology acquisition required to uphold, and grow, the industry and the European productive needs.

The importance of the role played by this industry in the European economy is clearly stated through the capacity of jobs creation and its economic impact (direct or indirect).

In Portugal, in the year 2016 this sector represented a turnover of 222 thousand million euros and had a growth rate of 11% in comparison with 2015. These values correspond to 51% civil aeronautics, 22% military aeronautics, 24% to the naval defence and the space sector 3%. The sector has 848 thousand highly qualified jobs (65% of them in the aeronautics sector, 30% in the defence and naval sector and 5% space related). Around 20.000 million euros were used for R&D activities, from which 80% in the aeronautical sector and 20% in the other ones.

The National Aeronautics, Space and Defence Cluster (AEDCP – recognized officially by the Portuguese government in February 2017) gathers already 60 entities (among them some main industry players, such as EMBRAER, TAP, SATA, CAETANO AERONAUTIC, LAUAK PORTUGAL, MECACHROME and OGMA, and a large number of SME’s and Scientific / academic / technology institutes and centres).

The sector currently represents 1% of the Portuguese GDP, exports 87% of a volume of 17.000 million euros, and has over 18.500 special qualified employees, showing its importance at national level. Taking into account that, less then 10 years ago, only a few companies were considered to be working within this sector in Portugal, it is clear that the AED sector plays a main role in the growth of the Portuguese economy.



Some important facts



  • Commercial flights increased traffic;
  • Portugal has an attractive geography, close located to AIRBUS, and with very competitive market conditions;

Race for space exploration by the private sector

  • New communication, positioning and observation services are coming available – Galileo;
  • Satellites are becoming lighter and smaller, making the access to space easier and reducing costs;
  • Need for new space launch platforms – Portugal is preparing to set up a base in the Azores;

Increasing investment in defence activities

  • Increased West - East tension (Syria, Turkey, Iran / Middle East);
  • Strengthening anti-terrorist measures;
  • Strengthening of the surveillance of the land and maritime borders of the European Union;
  • The EC will approve a record budget for defence actives estimated around 5MM€/year for the next framework program (2021-2027).

Main areas of activity

  • Metal and composite aero-structures;
  • Control and Command systems;
  • Flight Simulators;
  • Hardware and Software development;
  • Microsatellites;
  • Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul of Aircraft.

Key factors / strengths of the sector in PT

  • Long tradition and experience in aeronautical maintenance in Portugal -(OGMA has 100years and TAP over 70 years of existence and experience);
  • High software development capability (LUSOPACE equips the magnetometers of many of the European satellites; CRITICAL SOFTWARE develops systems core software for COPERNICUS;
  • OMNIDEA provides fuel deposits for European satellites);
  • The most modern, and the only European Embraer factory is located in Portugal
  • Industry Tier1 / 2 already installed in Portugal (LAUAK, Mecachrome, Caetano Aeronautics, TAP, OGMA);
  • Proven ability to train technicians for the aerospace industry;
  • High level of university education and Higher Education (UBI, IST, FEUP, U.Atlântica, ISEC, Politécnicos);

Investment growth increases 60% for AEDCP from 2017 to 2018

  2017 2018
Turnover 2017 (€) Nº associates 2018 (€) Nº associates
Anual value 240.000 56 385.000 70


The aerospace and aeronautics sectors have in Portugal a huge potential for growth, and this sector has already a considerable number of partners, among companies, private and public institutions. The national Portuguese aeronautic and aerospace engineering industry are moving up the value chain and have all the premises to considered an industry of excellence.

Portuguese engineering companies are designing and building launching systems, aircrafts, satellites and other systems making this sector known as an industry of excellence.

Currently this sector has an annual 1.700 million € of turnover, representing 1% of the Portuguese GDP. 90% of its services and products are exported. Over 19000 people are employed by these industries, distributed in circa 70 companies and 20 universities / research institutes.

Among the more important companies are Embraer/OGMA, Caetano Aeronautics, Tekever, Optimal, Spinworks, Fibresensing, Lusospace, Active Space and Critical Software.

The growth predictions in this area expect to have around 10% / year in the upcoming years.




AED Cluster Portugal (AEDCP) is the Portuguese Cluster of the Aeronautics, Space and Defence Industries and was created in 2016 as a private non-for-profit organization, inheriting the associative track record of three previous sectorial associations for Aeronautics (PEMAS), Space (PROESPAc0) and Defence (DANOTEC).

AED Cluster Portugal mission is to provide a one-stop-shop and entry point in Portugal for- national and international stakeholders of the three sectors, providing an effective hub and cluster networking environment for cooperation, growth and competitiveness of the Portuguese industrial, scientific and technological communities.

AED Cluster Portugal objectives include disseminating relevant information, increasing the visibility of its members at national and international level, organizing courses, congresses and workshops, supporting grants and prizes or developing projecu for internationalization and capacity building of i. members.

AED Cluster Portugal gathers the main stakeholders from the three sectors, taking advantage of the added value raised by the increase in critical mass and trans-sectorial synergies.

AED Cluster Portugal received in 2017 the label "Strategic National Competitiveness Cluster" for Aeronautics, Space and Defence from the Portuguese Government.This gives AED Cluster the mandate to boost members competitiveness, disseminate skills and capacities of its members, stimulate transfer of knowledge and technology and promote cooperation between industrial, Scientific and Technological members.