Italy’s Leonardo believes its aerostructures business is on an “upward trajectory” as the commercial aerospace sector continues its recovery from the lows of the pandemic.
In 2022, the unit saw revenues nudge up to €475 million ($507 million), from €442 million in 2021, but still down on the €1.1bn and €819m generated in 2019 and 2020, respectively. EBITA remained negative, at €183 million, but was at least an improvement on the €203 million loss recorded a year earlier.
Discussing the unit’s performance on a call with analysts on 10 March, Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo general manager, said unit was on an “upward trajectory” and was “already seeing higher volumes” than 2019 on key programmes including the Airbus A321 and A220.
A contract covering aerostructures for the latter aircraft has also been renegotiated, that will “increase profitability by the end of the year”, he says.
Rates are also increasing for the Boeing 787, he says, on the back of a recovery in long-haul traffic and the airframer’s resumption of customer deliveries in August.
In 2022, Leonardo delivered two 787 fuselages per month and this will rise to four to five per month this year “and the latest Boeing plan is foreseeing 10 shipsets per month within 2025,” says Cioffi.
Leonardo builds composite fuselage barrels for the 787 at its site in Grottaglie in southern Italy and horizontal stabilisers in Foggia.
Last year, 22 fuselage sections and 13 stabilisers for the 787 were delivered to Boeing, against respective figures of 28 and 16 in 2021.
Cioffi also points to an improving outlook for turboprop manufacturer ATR, in which the Italian firm is a joint-venture partner alongside Airbus.
Deliveries slipped slightly year on year to 25 aircraft, down from 31 in 2021, albeit the latter figure was bolstered by stock accumulated during the pandemic. Leonardo shipped 24 ATR fuselages in 2022, up from 15 the previous year.
In the meantime, Leonardo has reduced headcount in the aerostructures business by 20% and cut manufacturing costs through the increased use of automation.
Cioffi highlights the changes implemented this year at its Pomigliano d’Arco plant near Naples, which builds fuselages for the ATR programme and “which grants us higher quality level standards and profitability”.
2021 was likely to be the “bottom year”, for the aerostructures business, he adds.
At group level, Leonardo saw revenues hit €14.7 billion, up from €14.1 billion in 2021, with EBITA rising to €1.2 billion from €1.1 billion a year earlier.