Airbus has removed the ‘for sale’ signs hanging over its aerostructures units Premium Aerotec and Stelia Aerospace as it brings them into closer alignment with the rest of the group.
Presenting the group’s full-year results today, chief executive Guillaume Faury said that “aerostructures are a core activity”.
The two businesses were carved out “more than a decade ago”, says Faury, with the “idea that at some point in time these could be divested”.
But as part of a drive to increase competitiveness, Airbus will looks to “simplify” what Faury describes as a “rather segmented and complex industrial system”.
Designating the aerostructures operations “as core” will aid this process, he says.
A number of “potential modifications” to the current set-up are under consideration, Faury says, without specifying.
Premium Aerotec is predominantly a German operation, with sites in Augsburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Nordenham and Varel, plus an additional facility in Brasov, Romania; Stelia, by contrast, is largely based in France and includes plants in Meaulte, Merignac, Rochefort, St Nazaire and Toulouse. Other sites are located in North Africa and North America.
Faury says that in addition to the industrial simplification, closer alignment between the digital design and manufacturing processes is necessary to prepare for future aircraft that feature “different architectures and new energy [sources]”.
“The connection between design and the industrial system will remain in Airbus,” he says.
However, Faury stresses that there is no plan to move any of the current aerostructures operations to China in order to save cost.
“We are making aerostructures competitive on a European basis; it is optimisation in Europe for Europe.”
In addition, Faury plays down concerns that Airbus has moved too early to state a preference for hydrogen as a future zero-carbon fuel.
While conceding that there are “challenges” with using hydrogen, he insists “we really believe that it is a technology that has the potential to come to market”.
“You have to be very careful with the ‘it will never work’ attitude. That has proven to be wrong so many times in so many industries.”
To make hydrogen power feasible for use in aircraft does not require the “laws of physics” change, he says, “just a hell of a lot of work”.