In 1955, aircraft manufacturing began in the capital of Saxony: the aircraft plant was founded on the premises of the former Luftwaffe school Saxony/Silesia. lnternationally renowned experts of important companies of the German aeronautics industry such as Junkers, Heinkel, Siebel or Arado, were united in the mid-fifties to form a powerful team.
The first aircraft type to be built was the Soviet civil aircraft "Iljuschin 14" (IL-14P) which was manufactured in series production. The two-engine aircraft provided space for 26 passengers and four crew members. Till end of 1958, 80 IL-14P were produced.
The former GDR, inspired by their aspiration to world politics, commissioned the design of the four-engine plane "152". This aircraft was the first commercial jet to be developed in Germany under the guidance of Prof. Brunolf Baade and implemented the most modern aerodynamic and system technology findings.
On 30 April 1958, the "152 V1" designed to cover a range of ca. 1900 miles with a speed of approx. 500 mph and 72 passengers rolled out of the assembly hangar in Dresden. Lack of economic efficiency and access to Western sales markets, in combination with little help from other socialist countries resulted in the cancellation of aircraft manufacturing in 1961 - although production of a contingent of 26 "152" had just begun. The excellent performance in engineering of those early aerospace pioneers remained untouched despite the lack of sales success. The first German commercial jet that was developed and designed at the "Florence at the Elbe" represents a milestone in the history of German aeronautics.
The hangars of the Flugzeugwerke were taken over by VEB Flugzeugwerft Dresden. The core activity of the company that was founded on October 1st, 1961, was the repair of aircraft in service at the airline Interflug and the former East German Army. Between 1961 and 1990, maintenance for more than 2000 Russian fighter planes of the MiG series (MiG 15, 17, 21, 23) and 300 helicopters (Mi-2, Mi-4, Mi-8, Mi-24) was provided in Dresden for Warsaw Pact members.
In spring 1989, first contacts with Airbus were established when three Airbus A310 aircraft were purchased by Interflug (airline of the GDR); these contacts were reinforced with the reunification: in November 1989, the VEB Flugzeugwerft Dresden and the former Deutsche Airbus GmbH in Hamburg signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of securing Dresden’s future as aeronautics hub. The foundation stone of Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH in its today’s shape has been laid on 26 June 1991 with the renaming of the former project company and change of the business objects into an operational company. From 2000, the former EADS (now AIRBUS) has been the sole owner of EFW. Since February 2013, ST Aerospace, Singapore, has become first a co-shareholder of EFW with 35% shareholding and since January 2016 majority shareholder of EFW with 55% shareholding (Airbus holding the remaining 45%).
Of the business areas of the Flugzeugwerft, service for aircraft and helicopters that had been taken over by the Special Air Mission Wing of the Bundeswehr from the former East German Army‘s stocks continued.
New business areas were opened up by transferring work packages from other aerospace sites, mainly from Airbus.
Between 1991 and 1995, EFW produced more than 100 aft fuselage sections for the Fokker 100 and 70; a package which formerly was located at Nordenham. In September 1991, EFW took over from Dornier Luftfahrt Oberpfaffenhofen the structural assembly of fuselage shells for the Bréguet Atlantique (ATL-2).
Additionally, parts of the super transporter A300-600ST Beluga have been produced in Dresden. In 1993, transfer of the first of EFW’s current activities took place when manufacturing of fibre-reinforced furnishing components for the entire Airbus family was moved from Airbus’ Hamburg plant to Dresden.
After Fokker‘s bankruptcy in the spring of 1996, Airbus Hamburg plant transferred the conversion of passenger aircraft to freighters from Hamburg to Dresden. In July, 1996, the first Airbus rolled into EFW’s hangar 222. Four months later, on 25 November, the first Airbus A310-200F converted in Dresden was handed over to the US air cargo carrier Federal Express (FedEx). Since then, Airbus passenger to freighter conversions and related maintenance are a core business.
Due to the commitment of the DaimlerChrysler Group, the former DaimlerChrysler Aerospace Airbus GmbH and the government of the Free State of Saxony, the aeronautics industry at Dresden was secured and a new chapter of aerospace industry was opened which is still in the Saxonian tradition of aeronautics. Today‘s Elbe Flugzeugwerke have become an integral part of the German, and thus the European, aerospace industry.