Italian manufacturer to invest €500 million in facilities for production of subassemblies

Alenia Aeronautica has revealed its plan for the risk-sharing development and production of Boeing 7E7 components, under which it will invest more than €500 million ($625 million) for research, development and building of new production facilities, mainly in southern Italy.

Alenia is in a partnership on the 7E7 with Vought Aircraft Industries, which has secured 26% of the airframe development work through fuselage and tailplane contracts.

Alenia is responsible for development and production of the central fuselage and one aft fuselage section, plus the horizontal stabiliser, while Vought will provide the remaining two aft sections.

The partners are also planning a US 7E7 pre-assembly plant on a greenfield site. Two states are on the shortlist, and a decision is due in November.

Alenia's 7E7 work will employ an extra 1,000 workers in Italy by 2007 and will be run from the existing Pomigliano d'Arco facility, near Naples, which will be responsible for engineering development and industrialisation activities. Currently around 160 Alenia engineers are located at Boeing's plant in Everett, Washington.

The Italian-made carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuselage sections will be built in a new 65,000m2 (700,000ft2) facility adjacent to Grottaglie airport near Taranto. The existing Foggia facility will be responsible for stabiliser production using manufacturing processes already developed for the ATR regional aircraft.

Alenia's new facility will accommodate an automated line for fabrication and assembly of the two fuselage sections, which will be built as one-piece barrels. Manufacture of the first ship set of 7E7 structures will begin in March 2006 and shipped in late December the same year.

The subassemblies will be shipped by Boeing's specially modified 747-400 Large Cargo Freighters to the US pre-assembly plant where they will be joined to the Vought-built sections before being delivered to the Everett final assembly line.

The Italian government will provide an undisclosed loan for the 7E7 programme, prompting a likely European reaction over the US complaint tied to the World Trade Organisation over claimed government support for Airbus development and production.


Source: Flight International