DTA’s success stories in Forbes

A success story, that of the Apulian Aerospace Technology District (Dta) found space in the September issue of the Italian edition of Forbes, as the first feature in the prestigious magazine, with an in-depth article as part of the Small Giants project, a journey of discovery of Italian excellence devised by the BFC Media group. The story was told by journalist Piera Anna Franini, who had already been able to verify the value in qualitative and quantitative terms of the aerospace activities that take place in Puglia and the role played by Dta on other occasions. The journalist recalled that ‘it is precisely in Apulia that an aerospace supply chain has taken shape, ranging from components to software, identified since 2009 as the Aerospace Technological District. Three Apulian universities (University of Salento, University of Bari and Bari Polytechnic), two public and two private research centres, large companies, including Leonardo, Avio Aero and Sitael, and several small and medium-sized enterprises belong to the DTA, headed by Giuseppe Acierno’.

And again: ‘All this is happening along the Brindisi-Taranto axis, even though production and research activities are now spread throughout the entire region, with lighthouses in Bari and Grottaglie. A collective heritage that is growing GDP, exports, employees, companies, patents, laboratories, investment in research and development, professorships, research grants, doctorates. Translated into figures, the Apulian aerospace sector is worth 1.5 billion euro in turnover, exports exceed 340 million (2021 figures). There are 7,500 employees and 500 researchers. A number of companies – led by Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Accenture and Lutech – have announced plans to hire around six thousand young people, and the repatriation of graduates and young people with skills in the sector is already in the pipeline.

Among the most impactful operations carried out in the District is the participation in the design of the Catalyst, Avio Aero’s engine that will be used on the Eurodrone. In Brindisi, about 100 parts were produced using the additive manufacturing technique, while in Bari, in the laboratories of the Polytechnic, checks were carried out on the engine. The Corus Xuam project, on the other hand, experimented with transporting drugs and vaccines by drone: having arrived by plane in Grottaglie, the drugs were transferred by drone to the hospital in Manduria, 20 kilometres away. The Redox project deploys drones and infrared cameras to diagnose the presence of xylella, the bacterium that is putting a strain on Puglia’s olive trees.

‘Thus, Puglia has defined an identity of its own that goes beyond its historical competence and specialisation in the production and maintenance of aerostructures and the maintenance and assembly of aircraft engines. In addition, small satellites, aircraft for aviation, thrusters for satellites and aircraft, and services that draw on Earth observation technologies are now being designed and produced,’ Forbes Italia continues.
In this regard, it is also pointed out that ‘at Grottaglie airport, on the basis of an 11 million euro investment, Dta and the university are working to refine the platform dedicated to testing and experimentation in the segment of drones, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, innovative propulsion (hybrid, fuelcell), and sensors for airborne applications. In the wake of so much activity, in October the Fiera del Levante in Bari will host the third edition of Drones Beyond, Europe’s largest event in terms of quantity and diversity of aerial demonstration operations carried out with drones. The 2023 edition will illustrate new perspectives in the field of unmanned aircraft and innovative aerial services through the demonstration of services carried out with drones’.