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The objective of the paper is to provide an analytical perspective on the importance of South African (SA) civil aircraft firms building technological capabilities so as to develop technological competence and competitiveness in the global markets. The paper emphasises the role of government and the national technological assets in shaping national technological capabilities and competencies through various support mechanisms that could facilitate firm-level productivity and sustainable growth. It also indicates the importance of technological knowledge, learning and absorptive capacity in contributing towards shaping the nation's capability building within firms. Factors found to have impacted on the technology capability building process of the SA civil aircraft industry are discussed. The paper proposes interventions needed for the successful building of technological capabilities and national technological competencies that could lead to growth and globalisation.