- 120 years of entrepreneurial journey
120 years of entrepreneurial journey
Founded in 1896 by Maurice Mallet, Zodiac Aerospace has contributed to the inception of the aerospace industry with the aerostation and continues to bring its contribution to aviation history through a dynamic innovation policy.
Discover the key characters of our history:
Watch the 120 years video of Zodiac Aerospace:
The first conquest of the skies
On December 21st, 1896, the company « Mallet, Mélandri et de Pitray » was founded by Maurice Mallet (entrepreneur), Antonino Mélandri (sportsman and airship pilot) and the Vicomte Paul Simard de Pitray (industrialist). The company aims at establishing and operating a transportable balloon stock during public events.
In 1898, the encounter between Maurice Mallet and the Comte Henry de La Vaulx enabled the company to expand its activities and to become the leading provider of major airships for competitions. In June 1909, the company becomes “Société française de ballons dirigeables et d’aviation Zodiac” and expands in multiple areas such as airplanes and airships.
In 1911, the Mallet workshops and the new company merge to give birth to the “Société Zodiac”. The manufacturing brand permanently replaces its original name.
At the end of World War I and after the death of Maurice Mallet in 1926, Zodiac finds new opportunities of development by initiating an active innovation policy in areas, like balloon and winches, as well as the prospecting for new areas such as marine launch or parachutes. Whereas the Aerostation declined, Marine activities know a high expansion.
Mastering water: Marine activities
In the aerostation declined context, Zodiac invests the boating business thanks to the invention of a revolutionary inflatable boat by the engineer Pierre Debroutelle, in the middle of 1930s. Zodiac will also develop safety equipment for civil and military applications and took advantage of this prosperous period to open international subsidiaries in Europe and USA.
Between sky and sea
At the early of 70s, Zodiac’s group is going through an area of major change and uncertainty. Thanks to Jean-Louis Gerondeau, the new CEO, Zodiac reinvests progressively the aerospace industry, firstly with the acquisition of Aerazur and becomes a leader in supplying equipment and systems for aircraft. The Group has now two main balanced activities, Marine and Aerospace, and continues its expansion through a sustained policy of acquisitions. In 1981, a new model of management was implemented to support the Group’s structure, composed of an Executive Board and a Supervisory Board.
Thanks to new acquisitions targeting niche markets, Zodiac becomes in 1983 a Group listed on the stock market. It expands worldwide and focuses its activities towards the civilian market, emerging for instance as a world leader in evacuation slides.
A worldwide leader in aerospace equipment and systems
Early in the 2000s, the aerospace industry witness a sustainable growth and Zodiac takes advantage of it to combine organic and external growth, to create or strengthen its positions in market sectors in which it is aiming for world leadership. The acquisitions of Intertechnique in 1999 (on-board systems) and C&D Aerospace (Cabin Interiors) in 2005 will focus the Group’s development in the Aerospace industry representing more opportunities than the Marine activities that will be sold in 2007.
The Group takes then the name of Zodiac Aerospace and adopts a new logo. Since 2010, Zodiac Aerospace is continuing its strategy of acquisitions and innovations to contribute to make aircraft more comfortable, reliable, efficient and respectful of the environment.