PFW Havacılık Sanayi ve Dış. Tic. Ltd. Şti.
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A company writes history
The average age of German companies is around 18 years, according to estimations by the credit rating agency Creditreform. Only nearly 1.5 percent reach more than 100 years of age. PFW Aerospace GmbH is one of these special companies who, for over a century, have defied crises, wars, changes in their own markets and sometimes even errors caused by their own fault.
Very rarely do such a great age and global leadership come together. Simply because a great number of years often doesn’t have much in particular to do with technological leadership. Breweries, wineries or guest houses are amongst the oldest companies. PFW is one of the few exceptions from the production industry here: founded in 1913, the company is still on the market today – and, with some of its products, is even the only qualified supplier in the world.
The story starts with a man who could earn his living as a trend scout today. In 1913, the technically talented Alfred Eversbusch recognised that the time was right for an aircraft manufacturer. For him it was clear: the future belonged to aviation! As early as in the second year of existence, the first Otto-Doppelbecker biplane from the Pfalz-Flugzeugwerke factory managed to fly to German Southwest Africa, from where it undertook postal flights to Namibia. The First World War started and the Pfalz biplane was requisitioned and it later crashed. Meanwhile, production in Speyer increased. The course of the war demanded aircraft and, after Fokker and Albatros, Pfalz-Flugzeugwerke was the third largest manufacturer of fighter planes in Germany during the First World War.
However after this peak, the first crash was to follow. In 1932, a foreclosure sale was initiated – the result was Flugwerke Saarpfalz. But as soon as in 1945 the next ‘end’ came. The Second World War came to an end and the French and American troops marched in. After that, it was all over for aircraft production on the site in Speyer for a long time. But history was still written: From 1954 on, Ernst Heinkel built his famous Kabinenroller bubble cars here.
At the end of the 1950s, the aircraft business also started up again. Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugbau GmbH came into being – and with it, even their first own passenger aircraft: the HE 211. But managing growth isn’t all that easy. The German Air Force was established – and in Speyer a lack of resources meant they had to surrender the major projects: in 1964, there was a merger with Weser-Flugzeugbau and Fock Wulf in Bremen to form Vereinigten Flugtechnischen Werken (VFW) – later to become VFW-Fokker. In Speyer a long period of prosperity started, but in the mid 1970s it was already coming to an end. For once the cold war was helpful, and its effects reached all the way to Speyer: inspections were carried out on helicopters for the U.S. Air Force and outboard tanks were produced for the Alpha Jet and the Tornado. After separating from Fokker in 1980, trading continued as ‘VFW GmbH’ – the period with a modern production plant and helicopter service plant began.
An eventful time in the 1990s followed, because the Speyer site now belonged to German Airbus – and was a part of the planned global corporation.
Hulls, cables and pipes were produced – and, as an Airbus manufacturing plant, they were dependent on the ups and downs of the parent corporation. This, eventually, was in such a bad state that a buyer had to be found for the Speyer plant. And they were close to home: in 1996, employees simply took over their company themselves, by founding their own plc, the Mitarbeiter-AG. The remaining 523 employees gave their company its old name back: Pfalz-Flugzeugwerke. And straight away all indicators pointed towards growth again. In 2001, Safeguard International Fund got on board. The globalisation of the company ran its course, engineering competence was expanded and from 2005 a new name shone from the list of PFW customers: Boeing! In 2011, Airbus took over 74.9 percent of the company – PFW Aerospace GmbH was born.
The history of PFW Aerospace GmbH is available to read in a lot more detail. Click here for a more comprehensive version of the company history:
100 years of PFW