No 2012 growth for 787 suppliers, says Ultra Electronics

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Boeing 787 suppliers can expect no growth in build rates this year based on the airframer's component orders and indications to-date.

Ultra Electronics, which supplies the 787's leading edge ice protection system and some proximity sensors, anticipates no growth in the programme until 2013.

Ultra chief executive Rakesh Sharma said, however, that as no single programme represents more than 4% of revenue, the company expects to see its defence-civil split shift from about 80-20 today towards 70-30 "in the next few years". Growth, he said, will remain positive in defence - including in the budget-constrained US and UK markets - but will be outstripped on the civil side, where build rate increases announced by Airbus and Boeing are a reflection of their substantial orderbooks.

Recent contract wins point to growth in new markets, for example, Ultra is to provide landing gear computers for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet.

Sharma also sees a 2011 deal to supply landing gear, steering and door control systems to Embraer's KC-390 military transport as opening an opportunity to win work from that company's civil division.

Beyond Brazil, said Sharma, Ultra is pushing for civil business in China, where the Comac C919 and ARJ programmes hold potential for growth.

Sharma was presenting 2011 full-year results which saw operating profit in the aircraft and vehicle systems division rise nearly a third to £31.1 million ($49.3 million) despite revenue falling 4.6% to £166.1 million, reflecting the shift of most sales in the United Arab Emirates to an associated business.

Aircraft and vehicle systems, including airport information systems and rail businesses, accounted for 22% of 2011's £731.7 million revenue, with the rest coming in information and power systems and the company's core tactical and sonar business. Overall, pre-tax profit rose 12% to nearly £115 million.