By Luca Peruzzi
A balance between military and civil business activities should help Alenia Aeronautica to double its revenues during the second half of the decade, believes CEO Giuseppe Bertolone. With the success of the C27J, the news of the JSF Italian deal he is in a bullish mood reports Luca Peruzzi
“We expect a significant growth of around 26% in the aerostructures sector thanks to our involvement in major international production programmes; and an increase of more than 20% in our regional aircraft business, where ATR continues to be a steady seller and where the Superjet 100 will play a leading role.” Bertolone says. “Additionally we foresee a significant growth of at least 36% in the military and training aircraft sector, together with an important progress in transport and special missions aircraft.”
Selling Alenia products on the Italian domestic market continues to be a must in order to generate export orders. “The Italian government’s decision to fund the production of the M-346 advanced training aircraft is an important factor on the international market”, says Bertolone. “Italy has supported the programme from the beginning and has continued with operational requirement definition and technical evaluation.” The M-346 and M-311 basic jet trainer programmes confirm Alenia Aermacchi as a leading player in the training sector, Bertolone believes.
Alenia has also had success with the C-27J Spartan tactical transport aircraft, a descendent of the Fiat G-222 short take-off and landing design of the 1960s. Spartan has already been selected by five nations, and is a leading contender for the US Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) programme. “Apart from the US market, the worldwide potential market is estimated at around 200-300 aircraft,” Bertolone says. “The C-27J is in the running in competitions in Australia, in the Eastern European countries and Middle East, and is considered the front runner in Canada.”
Alenia Aeronautica is also actively involved in Eurofighter production and management consortium, which recently saw the Tranche 2 future enhancements configuration contract award, a cornerstone programme for the company’s workforce and future revenues.
Alenia is the leading partner in Eurofighter campaigns in Romania and Turkey, and co-lead company with BAE Systems to market the aircraft in Japan. “Future enhancements contracts, and the evolving air forces requirements are highlighting the aircraft advanced multi-role capabilities, making the consortium confident on Eurofighter’s future market success,” Bertolone says.
With the Joint Strike Fighter programme entering production and follow-on development, Alenia wants to expand its participation. “In addition to Alenia Aeronautica, this programme will have a strong impact on the Italian defence and aerospace sectors, including mid-sized and small companies, Bertolone says. “As second-source wing providers, from 2010 Alenia will oversee the production of major wing components, such as the composite skins and major assemblies, leading progressively to the delivery of complete wings.
“The final assembly and check out (FACO) facility will deliver complete aircraft starting in 2014. We are expecting benefits from this activity, and furthermore from the role that FACO will allow us to play in the JSF maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) programme. This will provide high technological activities not only for Alenia but also for other Italian companies thoughout JSF’s service life.”
Alenia is also heavily involved in several operational and experimental UAV programmes, including Neuron, Sky-X and Molynx. “The development roadmap opened by technological and operational demonstrators such as the Sky-X and the Sky-Y – the latter being presented for the first at the Le Bourget – is providing expected results. The first flight of Sky-Y could be announced within few days. Today Alenia Aeronautica is looking to attaining a leading role in the unmanned aerial systems in Europe.”
In the civil business, Alenia is putting itself forward as a independent risk-sharing partner. Alenia recently delivered Boeing 787 Dreamliner components from its Grottaglie and Foggia facilities, including carbon fibre fuselage sections.
The Grottaglie plant is the only one in Europe capable of producing these at present, but the exceptional sales success of the 787 means capacity will need to be increased. Studies are underway to evaluate what level can be attained, but no official requirement has been set by Boeing for the future. “The plant is already capable of increasing its production rate. We are ready to respond to a possible Boeing request,” Bertolone says.
Alenia Aeronautica has been working to expand its business in the regional jet segment, becoming risk sharing partner in the Superjet 100 programme while trying to expand its ATR regional turboprop joint venture with EADS. “The Superjet 100 has a potential market of 1,800 aircraft in the next 20 years. Through Superjet 100, we have entered the high end of regional jet business, while the ATR turboprop still has interesting short-to-medium term opportunities. This without considering the market for special mission versions of both platforms,” Bertolone says.
Source: Flight Daily News