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LATECOERE DRAWS INTEREST FROM BIDDERS

French aerospace supplier Latécoère has attracted several potential suitors in response to its search for a partner. The company says that following "an initial exploratory phase", it has "received several expressions of interest that it intends to analyse further in the coming months". Potential bidders reportedly include the UK's GKN Aerospace, China's AVIC and Stork Fokker of the Netherlands. Latécoère posted full-year earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of €45.3 million ($64.3 million) for 2010, compared with 2009's negative EBIT of €102.8 million. Revenue increased by 3.3% to €464.4 million. However, the company posted a net loss of €18.3 million compared with the previous year's €3.7 million net loss. Latécoère is confident about the year ahead and says that "based on the latest production rates announced by the aircraft manufacturers" it expects revenue to increase by 20% in 2011.


AERO VODOCHODY TO SUPPLY PYLONS TO SAAB

Czech Republic-based Aero Vodochody has won a contract from Saab Aeronautics to provide an additional 54 pylons for the Swedish manufacturer's JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft. Aero Vodochody says the deal is worth several million euros. Production will take place between October and December 2012. The pylons will be used on aircraft operated by the Swedish and Thai air forces.


SOLAR IMPULSE GETS EXTRA LIFT

Elevator and escalator provider Schindler has become a main partner in Switzerland-based Solar Impulse, which last July achieved a 26h solar-powered flight using a four-engined prototype. To accomplish the round-the-world "we need to go even further in terms of technology and reliability and we look forward to benefiting from Schindler's expertise", says Solar Impulse co-founder and chief executive André Borschberg.


ALLIANCE BOOSTS ITS RANKS

The UK's North West Aerospace Alliance has signed eight new members, increasing membership to over 370. Some of the new members come from areas outside the UK's north-west, including Reading-based Aerospace Metallic Supply, Essex-based Fenn Tool and Bradford-based Klinger Aerospace. The NWAA is an industry association representing companies involved in the supply chain.


COMPOSITE TESTING FACILITY EXPANDS

Exova has expanded the composite testing capability at its Bridgwater site in Somerset in the UK to cover fatigue testing of composite and metallic materials primarily for the aerospace industry. During the last quarter of 2010 three servo hydraulic test frames were acquired and commissioned at Bridgwater, and following a successful audit in March 2011 the site was accredited to officially begin testing for customers including Airbus, GKN and Rolls-Royce.


MARGINS SQUEEZED AT LUFTHANSA TECHNIK

Price pressure and order cancellations led Lufthansa Technik's pre-tax earnings to fall 3.9% to €282 million ($400 million) last year. Sales revenue rose 1.4% to €4.02 billion, and operating revenue by 2.6% to €4.23 billion. But the Lufthansa MRO arm's operating result fell 15.2% to €268 million. Operating margin fell from 8.3% to 7.4%, a level the company is "not completely satisfied with", chief financial officer Peter Jansen admits.