Italian group Leonardo has opened a research and technology centre in Naples as part of an effort to boost the aerostructures business.

AeroTech Campus, the new facility at Leonardo's plant in Pomigliano d'Arco, is set to become the aerostructures division's technological innovation hub and conduct projects in collaboration with the University of Naples Federico II.

Leonardo says that researchers, developers and "new entrepreneurial teams" will be located at the facility to develop technologies and processes aimed at "ensuring and consolidating Leonardo's market leadership in the [aerostructures] field".

In parallel to opening the campus, Leonardo has launched a "transformation programme" at the Pomigliano d'Arco site, with an objective of "improving production engineering processes".

Group chief executive Alessandro Profumo views Leonardo's aerostructures activities in the Campania region – of which Naples is the capital – as a central pillar of Italy's industrial prosperity.

"The challenge for Italy's future is linked to its technological skills and the growth of the [country's] southern regions," he states.

Profumo calls on local authorities and Italy's national government to invest – jointly with Leonardo – in the manufacturer's aerostructures activities, and says the group is "ready to play a key role in the relaunch of [Italy's] 'country system'".

He adds: "Our goal is to turn the tide and make our production plants centres of excellence in the manufacturing sector."

During a third-quarter financial results briefing in November 2018, Profumo said that while Leonardo had succeeded in improving the industrial performance of its aerostructures division, there was "no light at the end of the tunnel" in terms of returning the operation to profitability.

At its Pomigliano d'Arco plant, Leonardo produces fuselages for the group's ATR turboprop joint venture with Airbus.

Additionally, the Rome-headquartered group's aerostructures activities include the production of fuselage sections and horizontal stabilisers for the Boeing 787, fuselage sections for Airbus A321, assemblies for the 767, A380 and A220, and nacelles for Dassault Aviation Falcon-family business jets.

Leonardo says it employs around 4,500 staff members at several plants – including the manufacturer's Telespazio space joint venture with Thales – across Campania. The region is "of great importance to Leonardo due to its historical industrial presence", the company notes.