He is so passionate when he talks about his aerospace training company that you’d think he was born in the cockpit. Giovanni Ramon is not, in fact, a pilot but is the founder and managing director of Phoenix Concordia, a company originally located in Toulouse-Blagnac. Ramon has since decided to relocate it to Lille-Lesquin. Moving his company’s headquarters as well as creating a new and related association ensures that he has to spend many hours in flight as a manager, trainer and company spokesperson.
Is there a pilot in the house?
After earning a degree in aviation maintenance, spending seven years as a plane mechanic in the French Air Force, 4 years as an instructor for the Institut Aéronautique Amaury de la Grange – IAAG (a private aerospace training institute) and one year in charge of training for Atlantic Air Industries in Toulouse, Ramon caught the entrepreneurial bug in 2014. An expert in aviation maintenance, he created the company in Toulouse—an area known as a center for research and innovation in the aerospace industry. He originally thought the company would remain there. That was before he gave into the call of northern France’s business climate.
A new home for the phoenix
“Don’t get confused by the phoenix who rises from the ashes. The company was doing fine in Toulouse, but my wife and I wanted to return to where we grew up,” Ramon says. “It’s a new chapter for us rather than a rebirth but, I did have some concerns about market access when moving Phoenix Concordia to Lille,” he admits. The company received assistance from Lille’s agency for finding the right location, recruiting and communications.
A strategic location
Since relocating to a 150 m2-office and a 650 m2 -training hangar in Lille in May 2015, Ramon is walking on air. Any concerns he had have gone by the wayside: “Aerospace industry leaders have a presence in northern France and Belgium. The Lille and Brussels regions and the United Kingdom provide the required access to the aerospace industry, specifically in the maintenance sector. And we can’t forget the proximity of the Paris region which is less than an hour away on the TGV, France’s high speed train.”
Access to both regional and international markets
“With a 5 to 10% increase in air traffic every year, there is significant demand for equipment security and performance,” Ramon points out.
Business is brisk for his training company that specializes in regional and business aerospace maintenance. Located at the former Lille Lesquin airport terminals, Phoenix Concordia’s situation is ideal to serve aviation companies, training groups and even individuals who are looking to redevelop their stock. The aerospace industry extends 1 hour in any direction from Lille: SABCA (Dassault Group) in Brussels, Dassault Aviation in Seclin, the Stélia Aérospace factory in Méaulte in the Picardie region, the Paris-Le Bourget airport—the leading business airport in Europe, the London area and the Farnborough airport—famous for its air shows and as a business aviation hub.
Already working with various training organizations including IAAG in Merville, ESMA in Montpellier, Air Formation in Blagnac, Sabena Technics Training in Mérignac, Glenn Air in Norwich (UK) and the maintenance organizations Business and Commuter Aircraft (BCA) in Lyon, ASI in Toulouse, Textron in Bourget, Daher-Socata in Tarbes and GAMA, and Marshalls Aerospace in the UK, Ramon plans to partner with the Air France subsidiary Régional and Avia Partners in Lesquin.
The company’s foreign clients are also very demanding and servicing them requires many flight hours between Lille and exotic destinations like Tahiti, Guadeloupe and Africa.
Lille: an international hotbed for aerospace maintenance
The Lille region is able to graduate qualified aerospace technicians (offering various undergraduate degrees), specifically through IAAG’s program. Aerospace maintenance careers require sophisticated skills, in part due to European legislation overseen by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Phoenix Concordia’s competitive advantage is that the company offers training à la carte and is very responsive and mobile. It is able to benefit from its partner’s European teaching certification (agrément européen 147) specific to the aerospace industry. It offers high-level training that is complementary and essential for aviation technicians to increase their expertise and knowledge. Around 100 mechanics are trained worldwide each year by Phoenix Concordia. In addition, Ramon has plans to recruit two English-speaking instructors within the next three years.
France’s new center for aerospace training?
Phoenix Concordia’s presence in Lille has led to another project: the company is solidifying a partnership with the Institut Aéronautique Amaury de la Grange (IAAG) to create a global aerospace training campus in 2016 that will offer both basic and advanced training. “Cooperation between our organization and Phoenix Concordia will lead to the creation of an important new aviation training center, a first for northern France, even while IAAG already plays an important role in basic aviation-related training in France,” enthuses Michael Bourgeois, Managing Direct at IAAG.
As for Ramon, his eyes sparkle at the thought of bringing students and international interns together on the future campus, gathering them around motors, propellers, airplane parts and models like the Beechcraft King Air and the Socata TBM.