CNIM Air Space: a new production line dedicated to tethered aerostats and airships

CNIM Air Space, a subsidiary of CNIM Group since March 2019, is one of the main European actor in the field of “lighter-than-air” airborne platforms and systems. The company, which employs more than 60 collaborators, designs and manufactures tethered aerostats, drone airships, stratospheric balloons and thermal protections for satellites.

A new production line to address a growing market

“We are currently working with major public and private actors in the Defence, Security and Space sectors”, explains Gaëtan Breurec, CNIM Air Space’s Managing Director. “We have been awarded with a significant number of contracts in 2019 and 2020. Our new production line is giving us the capacity to efficiently fulfil those contracts, while remaining committed to our long-time customers and ensuring the quality level expected when manufacturing aeronautics systems”.

On this new 55 meters long production line, CNIM Air Space will produce the envelopes of its tethered aerostats systems. Those aerostats, which are linked to the ground by a tether, are deployed for 24/7 surveillance or communication missions, lasting from a few days up to several months. Depending on the use case, they are complementary to drones, helicopters and airplanes. Nowadays, they are often deployed for maritime surveillance, securing large events, protecting sensitive sites, etc.

The new line will also produce the envelopes of the drone airships developed within a R&D partnership between CNIM Air Space and RTE (the French electricity transmission system operator), called the “Diridrone” project.

The main equipment of the new production line is a motorised assembly machine. “This tailor-made machine achieves ongoing assemblies and uses several assembly technologies, which give us the ability to select different kind of materials for our aerostats. Thanks to the motorization, the machine moves over the assembly line. Both our production technique and the space used to set up the line are optimized. Finally, the operators are now onboard the machine. It offers them more comfortable working conditions” explains François Martin, industrial engineer, in charge to set up the new line.

A path towards job creation

Several new jobs will be opened to support the team which is already working on the line: a pilot on the assembly machine, and several operators to assemble the envelopes.

“This new production line demonstrates our know-how and expertise. It is a key addition to our industrial equipment, to answer the growing demand of the European Defence, Security and Space sectors” concludes Gaëtan Breurec.