TBM owner Daher has notched up its second best year for deliveries of the single-engined turboprop, and a record since it acquired the Tarbes-based airframer in 2009. The French group shipped a combined 57 TBM 910s and TBM 930s in the 12 months to December, three more than the previous year and just five fewer than the 62 that left the factory in 2008 – the last boom year before the financial crash – when the manufacturer was still owned by Airbus.

The strong TBM performance was matched by successes in the aerostructures sector in 2017 for the family-owned company, which unveiled its latest five-year strategy at an event in Paris on 24 January. That strategy includes a commitment to more than double its revenues from the Americas – taking them to a third of overall sales – and becoming a “digital leader” in manufacturing and services.

Also this month, in its first major contract with Boeing, Daher announced that it will supply thermoplastic composite structural parts for the 787, replacing components manufactured using more traditional thermoset composite materials. Although the structures will be built at its specialist French facility, chief executive Didier Kayat says the company is likely to add soon a stateside manufacturing capability, to cope with more expected work from Seattle.

“This first contract will be done in Europe, where we have our thermoplastics know-how,” he says. “However, once you are listed with Boeing, you have leverage to be open to more work, and as our Boeing business increases, it makes sense for us to have a US footprint in the next five years to join our factory in Nogales in Mexico which is Boeing-qualified.”

TBM 910 930

Airborne Films

Around 80% of Daher’s €1.1 billion ($1.36 billion) revenues come from aerospace, a business that includes running logistics services for manufacturers such as Airbus and Dassault, as well as TBM and aerostructures manufacturing. The remainder derives mostly from support provided to France’s nuclear industry.

Kayat says the company is targeting sales of €1.2 billion this year, rising to €1.5 billion by 2022, with €500 million from the Americas. Turnover from that region is currently around €200 million, mostly from TBM sales and maintenance, repair and overhaul.

Aerostructures have played a major part too, however. In 2015, Daher, which is ranked 60th in the latest FlightGlobal Top 100 aerospace manufacturers by turnover, signed its second tier one supplier deal with Gulfstream, to design and manufacture wing-to-body fairings for the G500 and G600. A year earlier, it secured the contract for the main landing gear doors, its first from a North American manufacturer. Since then, it has added business from Bombardier.

The aircraft manufacturing business has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround under Daher, which delivered just 36 TBMs in its first, difficult year of ownership. Although the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-powered turboprop dates from the early 1990s, the new owner has invested significantly, introducing three new variants since taking over the business, first replacing the existing TBM 850 with the TBM 900, which was certificated in 2014. That version has since been succeeded by the TBM 910 and higher-spec TBM 930. Daher also opened in 2015 a new service centre and US sales headquarters in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Daher’s digital initiatives – a key element of its five-year plan – include a push to introduce further automation to its factories, says Kayat. In addition, the company has set up a San Francisco based lab to “bring Silicon Valley’s culture…and introduce new technologies into the company’s industry and services businesses”. It has also established a subsidiary to market its in-house supply chain software to third parties. On the TBM side, a new application called “Me and my TBM” will provide data analysis to help owners and pilots with predictive maintenance and optimising flight operations.

The company’s last major acquisition was LISI’s floor-covering business in 2016, which introduced Daher to the third-party airliner cabin interiors market for the first time. Further purchases are likely, suggests Kayat. “We are open to anything that might occur. There are not so many of us in the club of having a $1 billion-plus turnover, so we are now one of the big ones,” he says.

The fact that Daher combines both experience in aerostructures and aircraft manufacturing gives it “a tremendous advantage” when it comes to convincing owners of acquisition targets, or OEMs with supplier deals up for grabs. On top of that, the fact that Daher is a family business – family members increased their share of the capital from 80% to 87.5% last year – gives customers confidence, insists Kayat.

“It shows we are in it for the long term,” he says. “That is how we can sign contracts with US manufacturers who did not know who we were a few years ago.”

Source: Flight International