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A view from the top


Airbus Defence and Space is pretty good at taking pictures. The pictures that the company takes, however, are the kinds that require cutting-edge technology, millions of EUR and an extensive team of experts in orbit and ground infrastructures and services.

The company’s Intelligence cluster is responsible for producing satellite imagery and earth observation data to serve a wide variety of purposes. The range of services is concentrated in two areas: (1) defence systems for air and ground and (2) imagery services and solutions, which include both optical and radar sensors.

Defence services include projects with Western European and Middle Eastern governments and governmental organizations to serve the army, air force and navy. The imagery division, which also encompasses ground systems to receive satellite data, serves a diverse mix of industries and functions, such as defence and security, agriculture, forestry and environment, maritime surveillance, public safety, energy and more.

Airbus Defence and Space’s intelligence unit first got its start in the mid-1980s, when it was known as Spot Image. After a change in shareholders, the company adopted the Airbus brand name. The firm has always been based in Toulouse in southern France, and this connection has served Airbus Defence and Space well.

“We have customers who have known us for 25 years. It is impressive to think about the culture and history of the company and this region,” notes Director of Operations Philippe Pham. Mr. Pham highly regards the company’s reputation and works diligently to preserve its name.

“I have a double role, which entails managing operations within Intelligence and acting as a managing director for the French Legal entity of Intelligence,” Mr. Pham explains. Leadership and dedication of Intelligence’s top managers have helped guide the company to great success, and the company has seen up to an 8% increase in turnover each year over the last four years. The organization ensures such profits through direct contracts with big customers, as well as its network of 160 distribution partners worldwide, which market the products locally.

“There are many varied applications of our products, which enable our clients to carry out their wishes in a purposeful, high-quality, useful way,” highlights Mr. Pham. The company’s clients are quite diverse, ranging from land development societies, cartography institutes, Google and Microsoft location based services, national institutions and many more.

Airbus works hard to get such clients, however, as “the industry is in motion and competition is great,” Mr. Pham cautions. Despite some challenges, the company stays ahead of other players by focusing on what customers have appreciated most about it throughout the years.

“The credibility of our organization, our customers’ satisfaction and our team dedication have been a great advantage. We have a responsibility as one of the largest European players and are therefore always developing new solutions, new services building on the latest technologies,” states Mr. Pham.

Airbus also prides itself on its consistently high level of commitment and engagement. “We always push the limits. It is our responsibility to never give up on finding solutions, even when the questions become complicated,” Mr. Pham underlines.

A big part of this success can be attributed to its team of experts and its customer services performances. These specialists come from many different branches to deliver the very best solutions for the company.

Research and development is a crucial part of the business, and knowledge is one of the biggest assets of the organization. Additionally, the intelligence unit is known for its client-centered approach. “In a way, all of our projects are customer-specific. We search for the optimal solution to meet the demands of our customers. This means using the most efficient technology and software to create turnkey products,” Mr. Pham points out.

To be at the forefront of technology is challenging, yet also exciting. Mr. Pham says optimistically: “We are breaking into areas in which we were never previously represented. Our company pursues many directions and perspectives. We are always trying to expand our horizons in terms of data, processing and diagnostics, with the goal of offering the best services to our clients. I have trust in the future.”

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