The University of Bordeaux: flying ever higher

The aeronautical industry is set to continue growing over the next 30 years. Global competition, the information revolution and an ever-increasing consumer demand mean that not only is new aircraft required, but also that this aircraft must be equipped with the latest aviation technology.

  • 31/01/2019

© Hugues Bretheau © Hugues Bretheau

The key words in response to this aircraft demand are training, research and innovation. Here in the south-west of France, the University of Bordeaux is leading the way, providing the answers to the challenging future of aeronautics.

Bordeaux, a hub of knowledge and expertise within the aeronautical industry

In 1992, the University of Bordeaux launched “IMA (Institut de Maintenance Aeronautique – Institute of Aeronautical Maintenance) with the objective of training technicians and engineers as experts in the lifecycle management of aeronautical systems. Over the past 25 years and more, the training offer has gradually expanded and now offers, in addition to undergraduate studies, a Master in Aeronautical Maintenance and an international collaborative degree program in Aero-system Operations (in partnership with the University of Cincinnati). With 30-40% of teachers coming from the industrial sector, the training provided by IMA is renowned for  its “hand-on” approach.

A strong local network with research laboratories and leading, international industrial players such as Thales, Dassault, Airbus, Airbus Safran Launchers | Safran Ceramics, etc. means that with IMA, the University of Bordeaux has access to a wide range of expertise and key technology in the aeronautics ecosystem, both in the civilian and the military field.

The aeronautical industry in Bordeaux

  • 70,000 jobs
  • 900 companies
  • 3rd aerospace region of France

A new aeronautical institute that combines training, research and industry

Faced with the growing demands of the aeronautical industry and the wealth of local resources, the University of Bordeaux, in close collaboration with academic and industrial partners (see below), is preparing the launch of a brand new aeronautical institute in 2019. This Institute will propose a complete and integrated offer of training, research and innovation. It aims to:

  • Provide an initial training offer that is high-level, exhaustive and international
  • Provide a lifelong learning offer that responds to the evolving requirements of our industrial partners
  • Create a hub of innovation and co-innovation that reflects the reality of this industrial sector (strong interaction with research laboratories and local players whether they be start-ups, SMEs and/or international leaders, widespread use of virtual reality technologies, etc.)

This new institute will bring together the worlds of training, research and industry. It will thus be able to develop, adapt and respond to the ever-changing needs and previsions of the aeronautical industry.

Olivier Puissant — Aeronautics program lead

In concrete terms, over the next few years the Institute will propose additional training programs (e.g. a new Bachelor in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering, engineering programs/apprenticeship training developed with academic partners ENAC – national school for civil aviation, and Bordeaux INP – engineering schools) and consequently a significant rise in the number of students welcomed.

The current campus site will be expanded to accommodate new infrastructure including a futuristic maintenance hangar equipped with an airbus A320 and dedicated “innovation/co-working zones” to be shared with partners such as Assystem, Novae Aerospace, Derichbourg Atis Aéronautique, LGM, Air France Industries.

Finally, the Institute will have a technological and industrial pole located in the neighbouring “Bordeaux Aéroparc” that already welcomes major companies within the aeronautics – space - defence industry, e.g. Aérospace Valley, Safran, Thales, Dassault, etc. This pole of excellence will not only boost the visibility of the Institute’s “know-how” on a local, national and international level, it will also facilitate interactions and projects between students, research teams and companies.


  • Industrial partners: Airbus, Air France industries, AKKA Technologies, Ariane Group, Armée de l’Air, Asquini-MGP, Assystem, BAAS, CEA-DAM, Dassault, Lauak Group, Roxel, Sabena Technics, Airbus Safran Launchers | Safran Ceramics, SII, Stelia Aerospace, L’Electrolyse, ESI Group, LUCAS, RESCOLL, TDM, Sopra Steria, SIMMAD, Thales, VENTANA
  • Academic partners: iMS laboratory, I2M laboratory, LaBRI laboratory, IMB
  • Local partners: Bordeaux Métropole, Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, Bordeaux INP


Olivier Puissant
Aeronautics program lead