Demetrios Papacostas‭, ‬CEO of Hellenic Aerospace to «ALJUNDI» Proud to serve the defense forces of UAE‭ & ‬GCC

Attending DEFEA 2021‭ ‬Exhibition in Athens‭, “‬Al Jundi‭” ‬met with Mr‭. ‬Demetrios Papacostas‭, ‬CEO of Hellenic Aerospace Industry S.A‭.‬‭, ‬which delivers defense and aerospace services and products‭, ‬aircraft‭, ‬engines‭, ‬accessories and avionics maintenance‭, ‬and discussed with him challenges that are facing the defence sector‭, ‬his company’s cooperation with the GCC countries‭, ‬especially with the UAE‭, ‬and with other countries of the Middle East‭, ‬and some other issues‭, ‬here is the dialogue‭:‬

Can you tell us about the nature of your company‭, ‬and the main products and solutions the company provides‭?‬

Hellenic Aerospace Industry S.A‭., ‬established in 1975‭, ‬is the leading aerospace company of Greece‭. ‬It delivers defense and aerospace services and products that include‭: ‬

Aircraft‭, ‬engines‭, ‬accessories and avionics maintenance‭ (‬repair‭, ‬overhaul‭, ‬modifications‭, ‬modernizations‭, ‬upgrade‭, ‬life extensions and logistics support‭)‬

Design‭, ‬development‭, ‬manufacturing‭, ‬and after sales support of electronic‭, ‬optoelectronic and telecommunication products

Design and manufacturing of aircraft subassemblies from metallic and composite materials

Technical training‭ ‬

HAI is a strong pillar for the support of Hellenic Armed Forces and a lever for national economic growth‭. ‬At the same time through a certified per the highest quality standards‭ ‬“one-stop-shop”‭ ‬the company expands in the international market acquiring a broad customer base‭, ‬and establishing itself as a reliable partner‭ ‬of the leading aerospace industries globally‭.‬

What are the strengths of your organization in the defense sectors‭?‬

We value our personnel as one of HAI’s strong assets‭. ‬With almost 130‭ ‬fields of expertise and continuous training and assessment‭, ‬the company’s human resources are contributing to the productivity and effectiveness of HAI‭.‬

Moreover‭, ‬considering the‮ ‬‭”‬Total Customer Satisfaction‭” ‬as the ultimate goal‭, ‬HAI is pursuing over the years quality excellence‭ ‬in products and services‭. ‬By implementing an integrated quality management system‭, ‬HAI has earned the recognition of leaders in‭ ‬the aeronautical sector such as Lockheed Martin‭, ‬Safran‭, ‬and Rolls Royce‭.‬

What are the main challenges facing defense sector in various countries around the world‭?‬

1‭ ‬Developing a sustainable supply chain‭: ‬The requests for parts and raw materials have been met with delays from local shops that don’t have the capacity to meet increasing demand‭. ‬Therefore‭, ‬aerospace and defense industries must search for alternative suppliers‭ ‬and routes to meet customer demand‭.‬

2‭ ‬Government regulations and environmentally-friendly policies‭: ‬Alignment with Government Regulations and Environmentally Policies of each country is a key factor of an aerospace and defense corporation to survive and grow in the defense market environment‭. ‬Recent developments concerning emission rates‭   ‬from factories and environmental vigilance impose flexibility‭, ‬awareness and investments from defense industries as well‭.‬

3‭ ‬Growing revenue in a competitive environment‭: ‬Seeking an edge over the competition requires delivering more value in addition‭ ‬to produce equipment‭. ‬Equipment that supports data extraction and other value-added services that simplify the manufacturing operations are mandatory‭. ‬Internet-of-Things‭ (‬IoT‭) ‬solutions enable data capture while IoT platforms provide the resources for storing and analyzing shop floor data‭. ‬

4‭ ‬Implementing Digital Transformation Strategies‭: ‬Aerospace and defense corporations that understand the value of implementing digital transformation initiatives to optimize factory floor processes will obtain a competitive advantage‭. ‬Solutions such as smart hardware ease the data collection process while digital platforms provide an environment for extensive data analysis to receive insight into factory production processes‭.‬

How do you rate your recent experience and participation in DEFEA 2021‭, ‬did it meet your expectations‭? ‬and how do such‭   ‬exhibitions contribute to developing your company’s business‭?‬

We consider that DEFEA constitutes an important event for the country‭, ‬marking the opening to extroversion after a long period of constraints due to the pandemic‭. ‬HAI had a series of targeted meetings with international partners‭, ‬and a number of official delegations‭, ‬that will lead to future synergies‭. ‬Exhibitions‭, ‬like DEFEA‭ ‬‘2021‭, ‬gives the opportunity to HAI to meet and interact with global companies of the aerospace and defense market and to identify potential opportunities for future cooperation‭. ‬

How do you assess the cooperation between your company and GCC countries‭, ‬particularly the United Arab Emirates‭?‬

Being always responsive to the specific needs of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces‭, ‬HAI had the chance to transfer invaluable experience to them in various areas from MRO of aircraft and engines to technical training‭.‬

HAI is planning to maintain and further enhance the valuable and long-term relationship with the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces in the field of technical training‭. ‬HAI operates an EASA Part-147‭ ‬Maintenance Training Organization‭, ‬having been approved to‭ ‬conduct training and examinations‭, ‬meeting the requirements of EASA Part 66‭ ‬Aircraft Maintenance License in all currently available categories‭. ‬

Additionally‭, ‬HAI looks forward to deliver each expertise in other sectors‭, ‬such as electronics‭, ‬command‭ & ‬control systems‭, ‬already tested and in use by the Greek Army‭. ‬Also‭, ‬due to the strategic location and the strategic importance of the United Arab Emirates‭, ‬HAI considers the country as a hub for further expansion in other GCC neighboring countries‭.‬

Cooperation and partnerships for some defence manufacturers are based on‭ ‬“buyer‭& ‬seller”‭ ‬relations‭, ‬what about your company‭?‬

It is a reality that some defense companies apply strictly‭ ‬“buyer‭ &‬seller”‭ ‬relations with their customers‭. ‬This strategy means that the commercial aspect of a cooperation is the dominant factor between‭ ‬the two bodies and as such‭, ‬the financial and contractual implications matter the most‭. ‬HAI‭, ‬from the first day of its operation‭, ‬followed a totally different strategy in the relations with its partners and customers‭. ‬Creativity‭, ‬support‭, ‬appreciation and‭ ‬full respect of the customer’s needs and requirements are the ingredients to successful business relationships and that is what HAI follows‭. ‬It is very crucial for HAI to listen to the requirements of the customer and to provide innovative solutions that meet its needs‭. ‬In this way‭, ‬customers are retained through the years and further relationships are grown‭, ‬based on mutual understanding and acknowledgement‭. ‬To reach a win-win cooperation is the ultimate goal for every corporation that wants to survive in the Defence Market‭. ‬The way to achieve it‭, ‬however‭, ‬passes through the above-mentioned behavior and attitude‭. ‬Since we are talking about the Defense Market‭, ‬it is inevitable that a company acting as a trusted supporter and consultant to the end user‭, ‬rather than a sole seller‭, ‬will achieve its goals‭. ‬And HAI looks forward only to that direction‭. ‬‮ ‬

What are the most needed defence solutions and technologies in the Middle East and Gulf region‭?‬

The technologies most valuable to national defense are those that maximize the nation’s freedom to develop and use its military capability‭. ‬Technologies that enhance interoperability with allies or mitigate supply‭ ‬chain dependencies are therefore particularly important‭. ‬These may not appear to be the most economically attractive choices in‭ ‬a traditional export-focused sense‭. ‬The‭ ‬‘make or buy’‭ ‬question is the same for all nations but the answer is different for each‭. ‬Middle East nations should learn from others but not‭ ‬imitate the solutions of other nations‭. ‬Developing regional competence in systems integration‭, ‬research‭, ‬development‭, ‬test and‭ ‬analysis will have more strategic impact towards ensuring national security and resilience than competing with established‭, ‬over‭-‬capacity producers‭.‬

Foreign investment in the most beneficial technologies must be encouraged and‭, ‬more importantly‭, ‬in transferring the knowledge that underpins them‭. ‬All traditional joint ventures or FDI‭, ‬should be judged by their contribution to building knowledge capital‭ ‬and thereby national freedom of action‭.‬

Developing human capital‭ (‬education‭, ‬knowledge transfer‭, ‬research‭, ‬development‭, ‬and training‭) ‬is essential to achieve independent indigenous defense capability and more beneficial than replicating production facilities in competitive market areas‭.‬

How is your company supporting security and defense in the Middle East‭?‬

HAI has a long-standing relationship with the Middle East Region that started back in 1980’s‭. ‬Currently we provide state‭- ‬of‭- ‬the‭- ‬art works and services for various MoDs in the Region in the field of MRO for aircraft‭, ‬components‭, ‬parts and engines‭. ‬Additionally‭, ‬very advanced educational services are provided to numerous customers‭, ‬by delivering EASA certified advanced technical training program‭, ‬that can lead to an Engineering Bachelor Degree from prestigious U.K and Irish Universities‭. ‬

How do you see the company changing in two years‭. ‬

The world is changing rapidly‭. ‬The same happens to the Defense Market‭. ‬HAI’s vision is to be smoothly adapted to the new requirements of the market‭. ‬Its strategic plans are the expansion of its portfolio‭ ‬of services and solutions and the development of new products of cutting-edge technologies which will cover the needs of our customers and the increasing demand for security‭. ‬HAI also focuses on becoming more flexible‭, ‬so as to easily be integrated to the‭ ‬new global defense environment‭.‬

What Are your recent 3‭ ‬biggest accomplishments in the defense sector‭?‬

HAI’s recent 3‭ ‬biggest accomplishments are‭:‬

‭ ‬The on-going participation with Lockheed Martin as a subcontractor to the Global Production of F-16‭ ‬and C-130J aircraft‭. ‬Moreover‭, ‬the partnership in the upgrade of P-3B Orion aircraft for the Hellenic Navy and the upgrade of the F-16‭ ‬fleet of the Hellenic Air-Force to the Viper version‭.‬

The provision of advanced technical training program to GHQ of the UAE Armed Forces‭.‬

The cooperation with leading European OEM in the MRO sector‭, ‬by becoming international service center‭, ‬thus expanding HAI’s portfolio of services and customer base‭. ‬

‭ ‬Would you like to send any message through Al Jundi Journal to the defence community in the UAE and the GCC‭?‬

As an aerospace and defense corporation‭, ‬HAI’s purpose is to serve the Defense Forces of Greece and all Defense Forces of esteemed and allied countries‭, ‬such as UAE and GCC‭,‬‭ ‬that requires support and consultancy‭. ‬Greece shares the same values as a country with the Arab States and historically the relationship between the two parts is more than friendly‭. ‬HAI is proud to serve the Defense Forces of UAE and GCC‭, ‬and would like to ensure them that its main goal is to strength the partnership in various mutually interesting areas‭. ‬

By‭: ‬Jasim Shahin

Al Jundi

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