Airport radars from Pardubice have been conquering the world´s airspace | info.cz

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Airport radars from Pardubice have been conquering the world´s airspace

Airport radars from Pardubice have been conquering the world´s airspace
 

When a phone rings in Eldis of Pardubice, the company that deals in the development and manufacture of airport radar systems, there is almost a hundred percent certainty the call is coming from China. Eldis is now planning to commence business cooperation with the Chinese state companies regarding radar deliveries. Another important customer is thus heading to be added to the company's portfolio. Eldis currently delivers its products to 25 countries and is not afraid to do business in very distant parts of the world. The company cooperates for example with Equatorial Guinea or Suriname. How China fits into the composition of business destinations, how many radars the company wants to sell this year and who will be the next customer, about these topics we talked to Aleš Jedlička, the director of ELDIS Pardubice.

China makes you busy, just now you are having their delegation to do the business terms tuning. What has been already achieved in relation to China?

There are currently 13 signed business contracts with a Chinese partner. Specifically, they concern 4 combined radars and 8 secondary radars. The remaining contract is for a primary radar that will be a part of the local radar that has been in operation for several years. This radar will also be enhanced, and more functions and features will be added to it. Thanks to the current development of the situation and deepening of our cooperation with this customer, we will soon participate in a tender for the supply of another 11 radars.

Is this a one-time deal, or do you want to work with China for a long time?

Much will depend on how we manage together with China to implement the projects under negotiation. Here we will see how both parties work and to what extent these projects will fit into our production and development concept. However, China is a country with great potential, so I think it should be a longer rather than a one-off cooperation.

What other projects or contracts is ELDIS working on?

Currently, there are several new or already running projects. We can say that we took in almost the maximum number of orders since we are using our production capacities to their maximum, at the moment. We are expanding the capacities further, though. Anyway, in India, for example, we installed three MSSR-1 secondary radars in Aurangabad, Berhampur and Bikaner. The production of radars for customers from Jordan and Bulgaria is also in progress. In the coming weeks, we will deliver to the Army of the Czech Republic the last one of the contracted radars. Along with the development, production and installation of radars, we are modernizing radars in Vietnam and Hungary, where we supplied the radars 15 years ago. We also participate in tenders in 4 countries, in Slovakia, India, Norway and Morocco, to be specific. In addition, we monitor activities in Thailand, Africa or Poland, where we have already implemented our installations.

The ELDIS radars cover 80 percent of India's airspace. Why India?

To begin with, India is not a country where we have the highest level of airspace coverage. In the Czech Republic and other neighbouring countries, our company reaches 100 percent coverage. Due to the large airspace of India and the large number of flights in the Indian airspace, the country is a very important customer and partner for our company.

Our story in India began as early as 2012, when ELDIS managed to win against a strong competition a tender for 8 combined radar RL-2000/MSSR-1. Probably no one at the time had an idea what strong a cooperation between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and ELDIS would arise. It did not take long, and between 2014 and 2018, there were other large Indian contracts. It is a secret no longer that our goal is to cover 100 percent of the Indian airspace. We strive for every further contract there and try to make the cooperation even stronger than it is now.

What countries would you like to focus on in the coming years and what radars are you going to offer to your customers?

In the coming years, we will focus mainly on the tender for the Norwegian national airline AVINOR. We are preparing further cooperation in the tender with AAI, the Indian Airports Authority, for the delivery of 5 combined radars. If this contract goes well, then we will be just a small step from the 100 percent coverage of Indian airspace. And now to another part of the globe... In South America, we would like to expand our activities and thus try to discontinue the monopoly of our competitors there. We are also looking for an opportunity at our neighbours, namely Slovakia, where we would like to repeat the success of the project for the local Ministry of Defence, which concerns a supply of 3 radar sets.

Are you going to be more involved in tenders announced by the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic?

Certainly yes, we would like to extend cooperation with the Ministry of Defence. When the department announces a tender that we have a chance to participate in as a potential supplier, we always try to respond and get involved. The Ministry of Defence is a long-standing and highly respected customer of ours.

With the orders growing, you also need new workers. How and where on the labour market do you look for them?

Our company is struggling with a lack of skilled workers, mainly in the areas of radio engineering, electrical engineering, software and hardware. We also lack people in production, assembly and service positions. Apart from specialism and expertise of people, we are looking also for those who are willing to travel and do speak a foreign language. It is almost impossible to find people who have enough experience in our field, that is why we have to dedicate some of our own staff capacity to train new colleagues. We renewed cooperation with universities and secondary schools, where we suggest topics for theses or technical papers. And we use the support of the Czechoslovak Group holding, of which we are a part, and in some areas, we cooperate with holding´s other companies.

Are you considering setting up some professional courses for students in the future who can then become your employees?

We are considering or even implementing various activities that will allow us to address young students or apprentices. We would not like to lose a generation of people who are close to our field and that is why we need to pass on our experience and know-how further, it is good to start with young people. It is mainly about providing for the experience and practice directly in production, assembly and installation or in the technical section. We also launched negotiations with one of the universities on the introduction of subjects that would deal directly with radar technology. With regard to our business activities abroad, we are also looking for new colleagues outside the Czech Republic.

How fast are the technologies of airport and landing radars and the whole air traffic control system developing and changing?

In all areas of industry, the technical and technological progress go forward incredibly fast. Our development relates to our own production and to emphasis we place on reliability not only of the whole equipment but of individual components as well. In the end, our equipment provides air traffic control data and there must be quality and reliability in the first place. In short, we have to monitor everything that is happening in our industry and I mean the novelties of our direct competitors not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad.

How do you adapt to new trends and developments?

For example, our engineering department is working on several innovative projects that are gradually moving onto the testing phase to be eligible for serial production. With these projects, we are mostly responding to our customers' requirements. This is one direction of the development or rather innovation of our products. The second one deals with modern technologies in the field of neural networks, quantum physics, cybersecurity and data integration provided by the installed radars.

How much do you want to invest in product innovation and modern technologies?

This year we are going to invest CZK 60 million of which about 30 percent will go to new technologies. Next year, we plan to invest CZK 100 million with a similar percentage share that will go to development and innovation. 

Taking into account the development of the demand and orders, can we say already that you will achieve significantly positive values?

We are close to the end of a very challenging year and a lot of work is still ahead of us, nevertheless, we expect a turnover of CZK 1 billion and EBITDA of over CZK 300 million. The most important factors regarding the future period will be: to have a quality team of people, who will constantly increase their expertise and knowledge base; and then to make all the investments aimed at expanding our production and development activities. It should be noted that our company increased its production year-on-year by almost 60 percent, we recruited 40 new employees in the first half of the year, and the fact that all contracted orders are being realized can be attributed to all our employees who deserve the thanks of all the management.

 
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