FARNBOROUGH: Volvo sees future growth under GKN

Farnborough
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Volvo Aero is optimistic it will expand its engine component production range as a result of a planned takeover by UK aerostructures specialist GKN Aerospace.

Martin Wänblom, Volvo's senior vice-president of marketing, says that the acquisition - which will see the historic brand disappear from the aerospace industry - offers "a lot of potential" to broaden the Swedish manufacturer's scope of hot and cold section structural components.

Just before last week's takeover announcement, Volvo delivered the first intermediate and turbine exhaust cases for the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM geared turbofan, which will be employed on the Airbus A320neo. The same components are supplied on the smaller PW1200G and PW1500G variants, for which the company also produces the low-pressure shaft.

While Volvo's engine components revolve around metal manufacturing capabilities, Wänblom is hopeful that GKN's composite activities - especially in regard to fan blades and cases - will offer a way to move "further upstream" in the gas path and get more involved with the face of the engine. Volvo produces fan cases at its US plant in Newington, Connecticut, but this facility has thus far centred on metal constructions.

He adds that Volvo moved into producing composite parts with the acquisition of Applied Composites in Linköping which fabricates, for example, radomes for military aircraft. But these capabilities have not been used in the engine arena.

Independence has been central to Volvo's philosophy. The manufacturer supplies parts to civil and military programmes at all three major original equipment manufacturers. Wänblom says that GKN values its existing customer relationships and wants to maintain the approach in future.

Volvo's takeover appears to have largely been welcomed by the company's approximately 3,000 staff members. The company says only 4% of employees responded negatively in a survey last week after the acquisition announcement.