France's biggest aerospace manufacturer, Aerospatiale, returned to profit in 1996 and saw its work backlog increase by 61%.

Performance of the state-owned manufacturer, which is likely to be privatised at the end of the year as part of its forthcoming merger with Dassault Aviation, was considerably improved compared to the last three years. The swing into the black saw net income rise to Fr812 million ($142 million), with Fr63.3 billion-worth of orders booked. Sales stood at Fr50.9 billion, an overall rise of 3.6%, with the space and defence division recording a 9% rise in business.

Civil-aircraft orders grew by 126%, to Fr38.2 billion, mainly because of Airbus business, but orders booked by the space and defence division, which now also has responsibility for missiles, slipped by 15%, to Fr13.3 billion. Helicopter orders increased by 72%, to Fr11.8 billion.

Aerospatiale president Yves Michot predicts a 18% sales increase in 1997, to Fr60 billion.

Source: Flight International