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Photo collection BAPA



Paul Poncelet, designer of the Vivette, at the International competition of light planes in Lympne (United Kingdom), 1923.

Limited Edition


Exactly one hundred years ago, it took one highly motivated and passionate man to ignite the spark that led to the birth and development of the aerospace industry in Belgium. Captain Georges Nélis, head of maintenance for the Belgian Air Force, imagined a new era involving a company to design, build, maintain and repair aircraft as well as Belgian airliner. It was in those early days that SABCA and SABENA were born. Over the course of this century-old history, SABCA has become one of the most important aerospace companies in Belgium. From its creation until present days, the chronicle can be divided into five different eras in wich the company expanded its horizon and consolidated its position in the industry. The early days are summarized in the chapter “Creation” followed by our activities in “Defence”, “Civil Aviation”, “Space” and “General Industry”. In this photobook, we illustrate these structuring time segments with remarkable events or time­ stamps. It’s a selection of unique images that demonstrate our anchoring in Belgian history, our savoir-faire, our experiments and our involvement in the most reputable programs in the aerospace industry. Staying at the forefront of the aerospace industry requires a continuous effort to adapt, invent, change, experiment and invest. Even today, SABCA is uninterruptedly shaping the next decades to ensure another hundred years of excellence. A major milestone during this festive year was the birth of the new Belgian aerospace group Blueberry that reunites the two companies, SABCA and SABENA, who were once at the cradle of the industry in Belgium. Together with other Belgian industrials, they will build a resilient and innovative group, that will be able to contribute to the next century in aerospace. I hope this book will bring you a moment of pride and pleasure, as if you have been part of this exciting journey. Thibauld Jongen 16 december 2020

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1920 It was with a 47 page long brochure that Georges Nélis convinced Belgian stakeholders to develop an autonomous civil and military aviation industry in Belgium. Soon after, SNETA (Syndicat Nationale pour l‘Etude des transports Aériens) was founded to study the feasibility of this project which eventually resulted in the creation of SABCA in 1920 and SABENA in 1923. To develop its activities, SABCA acquired three acres of land next to the airfield in Haren where it initially employed 161 people. In the aftermath of the Great War, SABCA would guarantee the repair and reconversion of used airplanes and business really gained momentum in 1922 when it started to manufacture complete aircraft under license, from engine to tail. Over the years, more programs were added to the order book and SABCA started to design and build its own flying marvels. With more than 600 employees in 1929, the production rate increased significantly with a maximum of one airplane per day. Apart from manufacturing aircraft in wood and metal, SABCA also maintained and repaired SABENA’s fleet and engaged in creative side projects, when production rates were lower. This included the manufacturing of canoes, cars, hydrofoils and hydroplanes.



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The SABCA Julien SJ1 – a singleseat monoplane - is SABCA’s first 100% end to end creation. This aviette inaugurates the “S”-series of SABCA’s own planes. SABCA plant in the 1930’s. If we played spot the difference with today’s aerial view, the first glaring observation would be that the city of Brussels absorbed Haren Airfield over the century.

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Collection Charles Mali

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Collection Charles Mali

With its closed cabin protecting passengers from wind, rain and oil splashes, the Demonty Poncelet Limousine showed great potential when built in 1924. The light plane would later be equipped with an Anzani-engine and registered as passenger airplane.

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This is what an advertising for a twoseater passenger airplane looked like in 1925. Still valid arguments, aren’t they?

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The SABCA-Poncelet Vivette was designed and manufactured by SABCA in the early twenties. Once equipped with an engine, the plane established a historic flight record of 10 hours 19 minutes and 43 seconds!

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2020 not only marks SABCA’s 100th anniversary, but we also celebrate 95 years of expertise in manufacturing metal parts for the aeronautical industry. You’re looking at the very first metallic plane manufactured and assembled by SABCA: the Sabca S-2. Ordered by Sabena and registered as O-BAIA on October 26 ! In response to a 1926 call of the Belgian government, SABCA’s design and technical team developed a new airplane prototype, the Sabca S-11. The all metal airplane, equipped with Gnome et Rhône Jupiter engines, would ultimately add no flying hours to its credit...

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The SABCA S-12 was built in response to the call of Belgium’s government for an all-Belgian multiengine transport aircraft in July 1930. The SABCA S-12 had one opponent as Renard was the only other manufacturer responding to the call with its Renard R-30. Neither of the two manufacturers won the competition since the organizing committee was not able to decide between them.

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It’s 1932 and Belgium’s first female pilot Suzy Lippens shows off a radiant smile while at the helm of the Sabca Junior, a glider used by young pilots to train and obtain their licence. Suzy Lippens held an international pilot’s licence, welcomed the Belgian king Albert on board of her airplane and once flew from Belgium to Stockholm on a 7h30 flight to bring the Swedish ambassador to his sick son’s bedside.

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Throughout its existence, SABCA‘s engineering teams took on different challenges, stimulating creativity at all levels in the company.

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Manufacturing and inspecting wooden propellers under licence of many flying platforms was part of SABCA’s first activities, as illustrated by this photo taken in the early 1920s inside Brussels factory.

Between December 1922 and February 1923, SABCA’s factory produced twenty Morane-Saulnier MS.35 under licence. It was undoubtedly with proud that Aircraft designer Mathieu Demonty and test pilot Charles Wouters posed in front of their magical machines.

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In the middle of the 1920’s, the heavy maintenance of the Belgian Military Aircraft SPAD XIII, a hunter used during the First World War - is ensured by SABCA people in the middle of the 20’s, as well as overhaul of De Havilland DH-4 owned by SNETA.

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A model of a Gloster Gladiator flying in the Brussels sky, above the “Cinquantenaire” area where the Brussels Air Museum is located. The Belgian government ordered 22 Gloster Gladiators from the Gloster Aircraft Company in 1937, of which SABCA ensured the final assembly of the last 7 airplanes. In the early twenties, SABCA’s order book included a request from SNETA for the overhaul of three DH9 bombers, which were equipped with a new cabin, an upgrade made possible by the qualified workforce which has always been the strength of SABCA.

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Much has changed since the early beginning. Except maybe the passion for aeroplanes.

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In the mechanical workshop, operators built Gnome and RhĂ´ne Jupiter (under licence) engines from end-to-end, ready to be mounted on military aircraft. (1927)

Construction of the Sabca S-40E in the late 1930’s, a two-seated military aircraft capable of performing acrobatic maneuvers and intended for training and photographic missions.

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In 1936 at SABCA’s welding workshop, employees manufactured rudders and tank supports for the Savoia Marchetti S-73, a civil aircraft. Rooted in SABCA’s history, the Italian airplane appears twice in the Belgian comic book Tintin at the Haren Airport.

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Intro SABCA had served the defence market already before the Second World War, but the activity in this field really took off in the following decades. The post-war years were difficult since almost all infrastructure and equipment were destroyed, seized or deplaced. The factory had to be built up from scratch and new work packages needed to be found. At the start, work was limited to the overhaul of all types of inherited aircrafts of the Belgian Air Force. SABCA used the opportunity to learn and train employees to become extremely skilled workers. It reaped the benefit from this investment when it was assigned to perform the overhaul, repair and inspection of the American fighter F-84E and F-84G and later the F-84F from the Belgian Air Force. The real acceleration in the development of SABCA came with the awarding of the Hawker Hunter for which SABCA had done numerous investments at state of the art equipment and infrastructure. It was also at that time that SABCA opened a facility in Charleroi airport after the airfield in Haren became secondary to the Melsbroek airport and the landing strip disappeared. After the Hawker Hunter, SABCA accumulated successes with the F-104 Starfighter, Mirage and F-16 and turned the site in Charleroi into an international center of expertise for maintenance, repair and overhaul for the defence industry. SABCA Haren kept the design and build capacity for components, like fully equipped structures for the Airbus A400M or the Radome for the MQ9B.



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The Avro 504 served during the Great War. Over 11 000 aircraft were built between its introduction in 1913 and its latest flight in 1924.

Collection Daniel Brackx

The first employees of Société Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aéronautiques built 45 Ansaldo A-300 under licence between 1923 and 1927.

Collection Roberty

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Collection Frans Van Humbeek

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Collection BAPA

It’s 1944. The Haren Airfield, including SABCA’s workshops, has been largely damaged by bombings.

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Collection Charles Mali

SABCA and its employees have always shown great flexibility. After World War II and until 1952, employees assembled Willys Overlands vehicles at the Haren factory.

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Wings, landing gears and hydraulic flight control systems: over 500 Hawker Hunters are equipped with SABCA components and structures. Our company also carried out the final assembly of several of them in its Brussels factory. SABCA manufactured 460 wing pairs for the Hunter Mk6 and covered the needs of The Netherland and Belgium.

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41 F-84F aircraft are overhauled and 78 upgraded at SABCA ‘s plant in Gosselies between 1959 and 1961. Refueling of F-84F fighters and a Lockheed T-33 on Gosselies tarmac in May 1959. The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was the first fighter to perform air refueling. This amazing air-to-air operation was possible from model F-84G.

Collection Charles Mali

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The North American T-6 Texan, overhauled at the Brussels plant in the 50’s, has been widely used by Allied Nations for pilot training during World War II. July 13, 1956. After overhaul, the Harvard H102 is ready to board a C119 aircraft to the Kamina base in Congo, where the plane would end its career.

Collection Charles Mali

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As the front radar of the Avro-Canada CF-100 Canuck was top secret, the fighter jet was equipped with a fake nose when arriving at SABCA Gosselies for overhaul in 1960.

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Hangar 3 in 1969. SABCA employees really showed their expertise during the production of the F-104G, overhaul of the FX-80 and works in progress on the Alouette II and T-33 aircraft.

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The spectacle in this photo from 1961 can still be admired today in our workshops: employees mastering the art of manufacturing airplane wings. 385 F-104G-wings came out the assembly line.

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Electrical wiring requires deep technical know-how, clearly present in the electrical backshop in Gosselies both fifty years ago on the F-104G and today on many sounding names. SABCA already proved its expertise in electrics in 1968 with maintenance activities on the Hawk missiles and their ground equipment.

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The Belgian Monarchy has always shown interest in SABCA’s employees and activities. King Baudouin visited SABCA, on September 27th 1968. He was accompanied by André Dubuisson on his right, by Pierre-Georges Willekens on his left and by Joseph Bontemps, respectively President of the Board, General Director and Plant Manager of Gosselies at that time. A new chapter in the SABCA’s history started when Belgium ordered 106 Mirage 5 aircraft. Both plants in Brussels and Charleroi received large work packages including the sheet metal work for the tail structures, the manufacturing of spoilers, air brakes, ailerons and flaps and the design of the stabilizer.

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The engineering office of SABCA Brussels went paperless since the late 60’s, but the expertise remains.

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It’s 1980 and Shed 3 in Gosselies is stacked with Mirage 5 aircraft for a so called “big visit”, which is a major inspection that lasts 250 days and includes the implementation of an important electronic modification.

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Collection Charles Mali

Eight sets of rumps are manufactured monthly at the sheet metal workshop at Gosselies from 1970 to 1982 for the Mirage III and the Mirage 5 aircraft.

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Inside hangar 5 at our plant in Gosselies (1992), an Alouette II is in for an overhaul and 10 Agusta A-109 are lined up for lightening modifications. It’s 1992 and Agusta A-109’s are lined up by the dozen in Gosselies. As of 1995 and for almost 30 years now, SABCA has been developing its expertise on the A-109 with thousands of hours in depot maintenance and modernisation programs.

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During the 90’s, SABCA operated major upgrades on the Sea King. This helicopter has been used for 43 years by the Belgian Air Component to operate search and rescue operations, mainly at sea but also for any other civilian protection missions. In total, 1757 people were rescued by the 5 Begian Wesland Sea King.

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SABCA not only built the hyper-lifting flap mechanism for the Airbus A400-M but also developed it. The first batch was delivered at Airbus Filton in 2006 and production is still ongoing.

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For more than 40 years now, SABCA employees have been experts in upgrading structures, avionics and weapon systems on military aircraft including the Alphajet.

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The Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt – also known as “Can Opener” or “Warthog” - figures on SABCA’s curriculum too. The American fighter has been the subject of strip and paint and service life extension programs at SABCA plant in Gosselies.

Among other structural parts, SABCA manufactured 564 F-16 wing pairs from primary part to final assembly for aircraft destined to The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Belgium.

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In 1975, for the first time in its history, Belgium ordered a latest-generation fighter: the Falcon F-16. SABCA was on board and ensured the assembly of the reactor and the hydraulic, electrical and electronic tests of the first F-16 aircraft delivered to the Belgian Air Force in 1979.

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F-16 fighters are on the list of the 2000 aircraft maintained at our Gosselies facility. Wing repair – which means disassembly, sheet metal work, control of the electrical system and reassembly, is part of our MRO service.

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Enginium Group is a well-established Recruitment & Project Staffing company, founded in 2006 in Herent by civil engineer, Eric Myard. Enginium Group focuses on four sectors: aerospace, production industry, construction and energy and has two areas of expertise: • The first one is recruitment services to identify and select talented engineers. • The second one is project staffing services to deliver a tailored solution for a temporary shortage of engineering expertise. Enginium Group creates opportunities for and with engineers, by connecting them with the best possible future employers. The main goal is to make a perfect fit between companies and candidates through a close follow-up. Customers appreciate our personal approach. The Enginium Group team has become multidisciplinary and diverse, yet strongly aligned in terms of ethics and with a common goal: to carry out meticulously recruitment and staffing projects within short yet realistic timelines. Our track record shows that we are specialists in engineering recruitment. Finally, we would love to congratulate SABCA for 100 years of industrial adventure!

ENGINIUM GROUP - Mechelsesteenweg 531 - B-3020 Herent T. +32 (16) 65 73 22 -


As a businessperson, you are a strong part of our community. It is your passion that innovates, invests and creates jobs, helping our economy to thrive and grow. And we are always there by your side, with just as much passion, helping you to achieve your goals and working with you to enhance your personal and business assets. At the same time, our talented people are also hard at work making the shared dreams of our community become a reality. Every euro that savers entrust to our care is reinvested in the Belgian economy. That resulted in 25 billion euro of new investments in 2019. We are also launching future funds designed to generate a return for society. That is how we encourage sustainable solutions and we donate part of our fees to charity - this in fact represented 150,000 euro of fresh support for the Anti-Cancer Foundation. Our astute staff are also on hand to help you unearth social benefits in our partnerships: through Candriam we have invested 32 billion euro in funds that deliver the highest ESG - environmental, social and governance - scores.



The creativity and passion of our talented investment specialists are constantly generating new ways of enabling you to unearth even greater added value. We are proud to have contributed for many years to the development of SABCA. By working closely together on different topics such as: FX hedge strategies, working capital financing, managing SABCA’s deposits and cash management solutions... Our dedication and passion helps to make a difference, for business and personal assets. To make that happen, you can, just like SABCA, rely on the close proximity of our team of business specialists - not to mention the expertise of our asset managers. And what is their main strength? Joining hands to support you!


Intro Since the early beginning of the European conquest of space in the 50’s, SABCA was involved in multiple experiments and tests and later extended its knowledge as a key supplier for servo actuators, wiring, valves and other components for the first European launchers Europa 1, 2 and 3. It was after this experience that SABCA became known for its vast expertise and know-how in servo-actuators, which eventually led to new and extensive contracts for the Ariane programs. In the early 70’s SABCA co-founded Arianespace, the international organisation that operates Ariane launchers and anchored its presence in the space industry. It was the beginning of a success story where SABCA took the lead in significant and vital work packages. SABCA undoubtedly became the market leader on thrust vector control systems for European launchers, from heavy launchers like Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 to lighter ones like Vega and Vega C. SABCA’s contribution to the space industry can also be found in smaller projects for the development of orbital products. Most remarkable are the Igloo, which has travelled many times with the Space Shuttle, the Extra Vehicular Activity Spacesuit and the IXV re-entry vehicle for which SABCA developed the entire control chain and power supply for the flap control system.


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With its Igloo, SABCA has been on board of the American Space Shuttle. The unmanned pressurized cylinder dedicated to experiments inside the Spacelab was produced by SABCA. It travelled along on more than 30 missions.

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To stay at the top of the Aerospace world, SABCA participated in experiments and pushed its own limits. Taking part in the development of a space suit was definitely an interesting experience. In total, SABCA produced 116 lower skirts for the Ariane 4. This impressive structure carries the full load of the launcher and served as a solid basis for every flight between 1988 and 2003.

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Manufacturing components of a launcher was, and still is, labour intensive. The casing of the Ariane 4 engines was assembled in Brussels and required hundreds of man hours from raw material to final assembly.

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Collection ESA

The first Ariane 4 launch took place on June 15, 1988. The launcher will experience 116 launches over the course of its career, all of which SABCA has contributed to.

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PROGRESS CONSULTING Progress Consulting has been helping organisations like Sabca tackle strategic challenges head-on for more than 20 years – from HR development through to comprehensive transformation. Partnering with SABCA since 2017, Progress Consulting is extremely proud to have, amongst others, contributed to the elaboration of the latest organisational design in Business Units, going for more business development and faster decisionmaking process.

Collection ESA



ESA retrieved parts of the Ariane 5 booster in the ocean after the last successful qualification flight of the launcher on 21 October 1998 and offered the part with the national flags to the respective participating countries. The Belgian flag can be admired in SABCA’s boardroom at Brussels. Taking on the challenge of developing an External Robotic Arm was part of experiments carried out by SABCA during its space adventure. PROGRESS CONSULTING Liège/Antwerpen/Luxembourg -


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Special missions demand special infrastructure. For its space activities, SABCA designs and builds custom tools and production lines. As a result, also the Ariane 5 boosters’ assembly hall in Brussels. SABCA manufactured big metallic aero structures for the Ariane 5 launcher, including the rear skirt which production required a specific turning and riveting machine.

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SABCA specialises in wiring and delivers fully equipped plug and fly structures for the space industry.

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Founded in 1961, GRÄFE srl is a family company specialized in the machining of precision mechanical parts. The thoroughness instilled by the founder (father of the 2 current managers) has enabled the company to position itself as a partner of customers from advanced sectors (aeronautics, aerospace, pharmaceutical, medical, railway industry, radioelements, etc.), including Sabca. GRÄFE srl has also made of the space and aeronautical sectors the major fields of activity. Attentive to follow technological developments, the company has implemented, over time, the necessary means to ensure an ever more advanced control, both in terms of manufacturing and metrology. It seeks to perpetuate the relationship with its customers by meeting their requirements. GRÄFE srl is pleased to count Sabca among its loyal customers, since the creation of the company and thanks for this trust granted for almost 60 years. GRÄFE srl warmly congratulates Sabca on this centennial!

GRÄFE - Rue du Wez Bajole 20 - 6200 Châtelet T. +32 (0)71 24 45 45 -


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Engineers at SABCA are experts in developing critical actuation systems that control the flight paths of launchers. Knowledge that brought the Ariane 5 right into space.

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SABCA develops solutions combining power electronics, microelectronics and software both for the aviation and space sectors as well as for the general industry.

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Congratulations to SABCA – being a major player in aviation for almost 100 years! We have more than 40 years of experience in common. Founded in 1976, CGI is among the largest independent IT and business consulting services firms in the world. From strategic IT and business consulting, to systems integration or full IT Outsourcing services and intellectual property solutions : we help clients digitally transform their organizations and accelerate results. CGI enables manufacturing organizations to embark on their Industry 4.0 journey, to transform from a product-centric to customer-centric business, or to realize the full value of the Internet of Things by linking systems, devices, sensors, assets and people. Manufacturers can become more service oriented, provide real-time monitoring and remote service, improve asset utilization or Supply Chain optimization. CGI’s expertise drives the performance of information technology and support services, while our client continues to focus on its areas of excellence and core-business.

CGI - Leonardo Da Vincilaan 19C - B-1831 Diegem T. +32 (2) 7086100 -


Structures are treated with special coating at our site in Brussels. It is big enough to handle major Ariane 5 components up to the largest parts for the Airbus A380. The light-lift Vega launcher operates its space missions with SABCA equipment on board, namely Thrust Vector Control systems that include electromechanical or hydraulic actuators with an independent power and control unit containing all the electronics.

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Collection ESA

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The brain of the VEGA launcher is this Integrated Power and Drive Unit, developed by SABCA. It steers the actuators that control the launcher’s nozzle to keep its trajectory during flight.

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With Ariane 6, SABCA continues its journey to space that started almost 60 years ago. The next-generation launch vehicle will be equipped with actuators designed and built by our experts.

Collection ESA

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Iris Facility Solutions



Since 2012, Iris Facility Solutions has been SABCA’s cleaning partner, working daily on the three Belgian sites in Brussels, Charleroi and Lummen. Skills and experience, total flexibility and the unwavering ambition of the Iris cleaning staff to respond to SABCA’s expectations, make Iris their perfect Facility Solutions partner. BRINGING BETTERNESS TO PEOPLE’S PREMISES Iris has more than 70 years of experience in cleaning and industrial services, 11 regional offices, over 3.700 employees and 4.000 customers, putting it at the forefront of Multi Services & Facility Management in Belgium. Would you like to learn more about what we can do for you? Please feel free to call us at +32 (0)2 204 03 00 or via

Iris Facility Solutions - Bazellaan 5 1140 Brussel T. +32 (0)2 204 03 00 -


Collection ESA

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ESA’s IXV re-entry vehicle reuses the Thrust Vector Control System of the Vega launcher developed by SABCA.

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Intro SABCA’s activities in civil aviation grew exponentially when new shareholders appeared on the stage. With Dassault and Fokker as support, SABCA acquired solid experience in advanced aeronautical technologies. Its specialties were wings, flaps, fairings, fuselage sections and fin structure. In the field of hydraulics, the company became an authority in flight servo control units. SABCA was often involved from design to final production phase. Many platforms have this newly acquired SABCA intelligence on board and still today, the company is known for its integrated assemblies, actuator systems and equipped structures. Over the years, SABCA was awarded with many work packages for sounding platforms like the Fokker F-84 and F-50, the Gulfstream 650, the Mirage 5, the F-16, the Dassault Business Jets, the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A310, A320, A330, A340, A350 and A380. The production capacity of the sites in Brussels and Charleroi soon became too limited for the amount of work SABCA was receiving. A new factory with focus on composite structures was opened in Lummen, Belgium and a part of the assembly lines moved to our site in Casablanca, Morocco. This new internal industrial ecosystem with 4 specialised sites offers SABCA’s customers the best solution and service.

Civil aviation


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Designing and manufacturing large and robust structures is a signature SABCA activity. Decades ago, we already supplied Fokker with the outer wing for the Fokker F27 and Fokker 50.

VANHULEN HIGH PRECISION SPRINGS SA MAJOR PRODUCTS / SERVICES Compression, extension, torsion, double torsion springs. Bended wire. Induction coils. Leaf springs and stamped parts. Assembly of metal parts and plastic parts. Welding TIG-MIG-Laser.



VANHULEN HIGH PRECISION SPRINGS SA Rue Haute Claire, 3 - ZI des Hauts-Sarts - 4040 Herstal T: +32 (4) 289 99 99 - -


The European cooperation program for civil aerospace started of with the Dassault Mercure aircraft for which SABCA designed and produced various mobile wing parts and fairings. Later Airbus appeared on the European stage with the A300.

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Proximus Group is a telecommunication & ICT company operating in the Belgian and international markets, providing services to residential, enterprise and public customers Proximus’ ambition is to become a digital service provider, connecting everyone and everything so people live better and work smarter. Through our best-quality integrated fixed and mobile networks, we provide access anywhere and anytime to digital services and easy-to-use solutions, as well as to a broad offering of multimedia content. Proximus transforms technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Cloud and Security into solutions with positive impact on people and society.

PROXIMUS - Boulevard du Roi Albert II 27 - 1030 Brussel T. +32 (0)2 205 4000 -


SABCA has a subsidiary in Morocco, mainly for the assembly of numerous aluminium structures like the tail cone of the Airbus A330. Since the start of the Airbus A330 program, SABCA has been on board with a floor element and the tail cone.

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These tail cones are waiting to be equipped and will become a part of the larger tail structure of long haul airplanes like the Airbus A330/A340200/-300.

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2000 pairs of these titanium maintenance doors have left the factory in Brussels and Casablanca. They fly around the world on different aircraft of the Airbus family.

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AKKA Technologies is a Belgium-based engineering consultancy company with more than 21,000 experts active worldwide. With activities in more than 25 countries, AKKA is active in all big industrial sectors going from transport and energy to life sciences and digital. At AKKA, we accelerate innovation and business for the digital industrial world. As a global leader in engineering consulting and R&D services, we support the world’s leading industry players in their digital transformation and throughout their entire product life cycle. We bring together a community of technology passionate thinkers and doers that partner with the largest industrial groups worldwide to make bold innovation happen. Thanks to our cross-sector and cross-disciplinary approach, we offer our engineers the chance to expand their skills and horizon to infinity and bring a unique expertise to our clients. As a longstanding partner of SABCA, we would like to congratulate them on their 100 years of activity and we look forward to continue working with them for many years to come!

AKKA BELGIUM - Avenue Jules Bordet 168, 1140 Evere T. +32 (0) 2 712 60 00 -


For the Airbus A340, SABCA manufactured 133 pressurized floors. Each of its panels is prepared for a non-destructive test fault detection.

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Even if the Dornier jet never actually took off, SABCA has nonetheless gained in expertise by manufacturing the cockpits and rear fuselages of the prototype models in the early 2000’s.

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As an expert in complex electromechanical and hydraulic systems, SABCA produces over 1300 Direct Drive Valves systems (DDV) each year inside its Brussels plant.

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SABCA is specialised in equipped structures. We deliver the horizontal tail plane panel of the Gulfstream G650, ready for assembly. SABCA has many years of experience in design, manufacturing and maintenance of flight control actuators for business jets and commercial aircraft such as the Airbus A320 for which we developed and produced the Electro Hydraulic Actuator (EHA).

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G4S G4S is the leading global, integrated security company, specialising in the provision of security services and solutions to customers. Our mission is to create material, sustainable value for our customers and shareholders by being the supply partner of choice in all our markets. For more information, visit



G4S BELGIUM - Koning Boudewijnlaan 30 - B-1800 Vilvoorde T: +32 (2) 712 59 11 - -


Once this fuel tank is fully tested, it will be integrated on the Dassault Falcon F6X. The production of components and final assembly is done on the SABCA site in Brussels.

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Un pareil jubilé de 100 ans méritait sans aucun doute cette prestigieuse édition s’agissant de rappeler à quel point la SABCA a été déterminante pour l’essor de l’aéronautique civile et militaire, ainsi que pour ses activités dans le spatial. C’est avec honneur et fierté que la Ville de Bruxelles souhaite à la plus ancienne entreprise aéronautique belge basée à Bruxelles et à ses 1000 employés un heureux anniversaire! Vive le savoir-faire belge ! vive la SABCA ! A 100 year jubilee such as this was undoubtedly worthy of this prestigious edition as a reminder of the extent to which SABCA has been decisive in the development of civil and military aeronautics, as well as its activities in space. It is with honor and pride that the City of Brussels wishes the oldest Belgian aeronautical company based in Brussels and its 1000 employees a happy anniversary! Long live Belgian know-how! Long live SABCA!

Operators go to great extend to deliver a flawless product to customers. Composite painting from primer to external paint is part of the production process.

PHILIPPE CLOSE Bourgmestre de la Ville de Bruxelles Mayor of the City of Brussels

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At SABCA we also bake. By preference larger pieces that fit in the 15,5 meter long autoclave with 5,5 meter diameter.

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SABCA can proudly say it has been part of the Superjumbo journey! With the production of the Airbus A380 T-Shape, SABCA demonstrated its expertise in manufacturing complex and highly loaded fuselage parts.

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Congratulations to SABCA for delivering high quality products to the aeronautical sector around the world during the last 100 years, under the Belgian flag! SABCA is a true pioneer in aerospace and FPIM-SFPI is proud to anchor this know-how and expertise firmly in Belgium.




Even though our common history is very young having closed the acquisition of SABCA in June 2020 together with Sabena Aerospace, FPIMunder is a long strategic Congratulations to SABCA for delivering duringSFPI 100 – years, the term Belgian flag, investor providing patient capital and we will support SABCA as long as needed to help high quality products to the aeronautical sector around the world ! create another century full of success ! Even if our common history is pretty young since the acquisition we closed in June The Belgian Federal HoldingAerospace, and Investment company (Société Fédérale de and plans 2020 together with Sabena SFPI-FPIM is a patient capital player Participations et d’Investissement / Federale Participatieen Investeringsto support SABCA as long as needed to help create one more century full of success ! maatschappij; SFPI/FPIM), created on November 1th, 2006, is the sovereign wealth fundBelgian of Belgium, aiming for long-term and sustainable economic and social de prosperity. The Federal Holding and Investment company (Société Fédérale Participations et d’Investissement / Federale Participatie- en Investeringsmaatschappij; SFPI/FPIM, with the on Belgian Government as its shareholder, actsfund as a of trusted SFPI-FPIM), created November 1th, 2006, is sole the sovereign wealth Belgium, partner for in helping Belgian companies to becomeand a reference in their industry by aiming long-term and sustainable economic social prosperity. providing smart capital solutions. In addition, SFPI/FPIM safeguards the long-term stability of the Belgian economy by contributing to the anchoring acts of strategic assets in SFPI-FPIM, with the Belgian Government as its sole shareholder, as a trusted both promising andBelgian established companies. partner in helping companies to become a reference in their industry by providing smart capital solutions. In addition, SFPI-FPIM safeguards the long-term SFPI – FPIM has a longeconomy experience an investor in in Belgium, stability of the Belgian byas contributing tothe theaerospace anchoringindustry of strategic assets which one of ourand key established investment pillars. The industry is of strategic importance for the in bothispromising companies. Belgian economy, directly and indirectly employing over a 100.000 people and anchoring state-of-the-art engineering expertise inhas Belgium. aim to support the whole In the aeronatucial sector, SFPI-FPIM a long We experience being involved in value a lot of chain and help the ecosystem tothis develop itself further in a afuture-proof way, a roleaims more companies with a major role in economy. With such strategy, SFPI-FPIM than ever needed givenvalue the challenging times for the aerospace sector. to support the whole chain and to helpahead the ecosystem to develop, a role that is even more needed now in the current challenging period we witness.

THE FEDERAL HOLDING AND INVESTMENT COMPANY - Louizalaan 32 bus 4 - 1050 Brussel T. +32 2 548 52 11 - -

THE FEDERAL HOLDING AND INVESTMENT COMPANY | Louizalaan 32 bus 4 | 1050 Brussel


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ENGIE ENGIE Solutions is the promise of a single point of contact and a combination of complementary energy solutions for cities and communities, industries and buildings. Our 9,600 experts are committed to results and are active in complementary fields such as cooling, industrial techniques, electricity, energy, mechanics, heating and cooling networks. Their common ambition is to accelerate the low-carbon transition of their customers by offering them complete and tailormade support. ENGIE Solutions is part of ENGIE, the Belgian market leader in sales of electricity, natural gas and energy services. ENGIE Solutions counts 56 locations in Belgium and has an annual turnover of 2 billion euros.


TO SUPPORT YOU TOWARDS CARBON NEUTRALITY, WE GO BEYOND ENERGY. To guarantee quality and on-time productions, SABCA doesn’t hesitate to make the necessary investments and equip its factory with state-of-theart machining. One of the largest surface treatment installations in Europe can be found on our site in Brussels. It is 24/7 operational and is capable of treating extremely large components. The tanks are 7,2 meter large 3,6 meter deep and 0,7 meter wide.

ENGIE-SOLUTIONS - Simón Bolívarlaan 34 - B-1000 Brussel ENGIE_Solutions logotype MONO_BLACK 22/10/2019








Designing and manufacturing flap support mechanisms for the A350 is part of integrated metallic structures capabilities.

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Who could imagine that parts of a plane are made by taping composite material in different layers? On the SABCA site in Lummen, we have two Automatic Composite Tape Layer Robots to do so. To guarantee the utmost quality to our customer, extensive non-destructive testing is part of each production process. At our plant in Lummen, composite panels are checked with ultrasound.

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The SABCA Group longest milling centre is located in Lummen. It is used to contour and drill large components like the Gulfstream G650 composite horizontal tail plane

LUMINUS - Boulevard Roi Albert II 7 - 1210 Bruxelles T: +32 (2) 229 19 50 -

Intro At the dawn of the era of unmanned autonomous systems, SABCA took the opportunity to explore new markets with technology based on its vast aerospace history. It seemed to have all the necessary assets to offer aerospace grade solutions to non-aerospace companies who are challenged with safety critical, time consuming, hazardous and environmental unfriendly operations. At present, SABCA is involved in different drone based projects. Together with DEME Offshore it investigates the feasibility of autonomous inspection of wind turbines at sea; with SCK CEN it is exploring the potentiality of detecting radioactive risks on nuclear sites. It is studying the possibility to survey railway networks and buildings across the country. Apart from these use cases, many other projects are ongoing, expanding our knowledge and expertise. In October 2019, SABCA successfully performed the first drone flight over a densely populated area, the city of Antwerp, transporting medical samples from one hospital to another. For these auto­ nomous flights, SABCA will be relying on its own autopilot based on the algorithms that have already proved their worth on space launchers. The advantages of unmanned autonomous systems in an industrial environment seem to be plentiful. It is only a matter of time before they will take over some of the more dangerous and difficult operations.



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This Penguin is SABCA’s long range fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle. It will operate autonomous flights to aera that are more remote. Surveillance of wind turbines at sea is just one of the applications.

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Autonomous transport over densely populated areas by drones requires highly trained engineers, operators and redundant systems. For extra safety, each drone is equipped with a parachute, just in case.

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LAYGUE For more than 70 years, LAYGUE & Fils has specialised in the precision machining of spare parts and the assembly of sub-assemblies for the aeronautics, aerospace, nuclear and medical sectors. Anxious to develop its versatility, the LAYGUE et FILS company possesses numerous means of production and control of the latest generation. LAYGUE et FILS company is certified ISO 9001, EN 9100, ISO 13485.



In October 2019 SABCA successfully performed its first medical transport between hospitals in Antwerp in presence of our CEO Thibauld Jongen and the Belgian King Filip.

LAYGUE & FILS - 6 Allée J. LATRILLE - 33650 MARTILLAC T: +33 (5) 56 80 67 82 -

Closing word 2020 is a pivotal year for the aerospace industry in Belgium and around the globe. It became clear that the models from the past would no longer apply for the future and that new challenges demand fresh solutions. To prepare SABCA for another centennial, we have invested in new technology, like unmanned autonomous systems, and we have joined forces with Sabena Aerospace under the umbrella of the Blueberry Group. This new Belgian Ecosystem was incorporated by Sabena Aerospace Holding and the Federal Holding and Investment Company (SFPI/FPIM). The ambition of Blueberry is to create a unique industrial ecosystem in the aerospace industry through the consolidation of Belgian industrial assets, being resilient through diversification and through the development of new sources of value in critical niche products and services. For now, Blueberry has 4 Belgian sites (Zaventem, Haren, Gosselies and Lummen), is active in more than 10 countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, United States, Morocco, Tanzania, Congo RDC, Congo Brazzaville, Zimbabwe & Mauritania) and has more than 1200 employees in Belgium and abroad. Blueberry represents the future of the aerospace industry in Belgium. It reunites the two companies that were at the cradle of the industry in Belgium and is focused on cooperation, innovation, leadership and change: the ingredients for another successful 100 years in aerospace.

This book is the result of the cooperation between Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Charles Mali, Charlie de la Royère, BAPA, Bieke Olemans and éditions pat.H for which we are very thankful. We also want to thank our partners Belfius, SFPI/FPIM, Proximus, Enginium Group, Gräfe, CGI, Iris Facility Solutions, Akka Technologies, AAA, Luminus, Engie, Progress Consulting, Vanhulen, G4S, Laygue and the City of Brussels for their most appreciated support.

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AAA, privately held company with its headquarters in Paris, France, is a key player in the aerospace industry for on-site operations, working on all civil, military and business aircraft, and during their whole product lifecycle. AAA performs as a major on-site service provider the following activities: industrial production and assembly, manufacturing engineering, industrialization, Final Assembly Line (FAL) services, FAL integration, flight line services, Out Standing Works (OSW) & Out Located Works (OLW), quality conformance management, quality inspection, airlines services and Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO), at customer facilities worldwide or within our factories. AAA is able also to provide training in aeronautical fields and support for Transfer of Work. Our added value comes from dedicated teams, constituted through our worldwide subsidiaries of international experts and local employees, continuously trained to advanced industrial methods and meeting quality requirements. With more than 30 years of growth and experience, our philosophy of capability, efficiency and reliability drives us every day to be your partner to success.

AAA T. +33 (1) 48 06 85 85 -





This book contains SABCA archives as well as copyrighted photos which use has been authorised by copyrights owner.

PHOTOS CREDITS ESA Fonds AELR Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History (Belgium) Collection Charles Mali Collection Roberty Collection Daniel Brackx Collection Frans Van Humbeek Collection BAPA ESA JMS CONCEPT REALISATION PUBLISHING éditions pat.H - Patricia Henrion Rue de l’enseignement 30 1000 Bruxelles Phone: 0498 05 19 80 Publisher N° 12.782 (Register of Publishers of the Royal Library of Belgium) Publisher code 978-2-930639 (Afnil) Member of ‘Association des Éditeurs Belges’ (ADEB) -

Numéro de dépôt D/2020/12.782/3

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without prior written consent by the publisher. The editor is not responsible for any errors or omissions, resulting from an accident. The publisher would like to extend thanks and appreciation to all those who contributed editorial material, information and photos for this edition. Printed in Belgium December 2020

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Photo collection BAPA



Paul Poncelet, designer of the Vivette, at the International competition of light planes in Lympne (United Kingdom), 1923.

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