With the threat of a Northrop Grumman takeover hanging over his head at Asian Aerospace, Wes Bush, new president and chief executive of TRW Aeronautical Systems, is positive about the company's future.

"This year has been difficult, but 2003 and 2004 will be better," Bush says. "Historically, businesses use downturns to prepare for the future and we have been positioning the business from a performance perspective. TRW is a strong company with a bright future.

"We have implemented Six Sigma across the organisation, which is making us more productive and improving both employee and customer satisfaction - it is a management process. We are also increasing our overall digitisation initiatives and making some significant investments."

TRW has been a major pioneer of next-generation aircraft technology, including variable frequency (VF) power generation. VF systems have been proven on the Global Express business jet and baselined on several new development programmes, including the Airbus A380. It is also a leading player in the development of the "more-electric" aircraft, developing a number of fly-by-wire alternatives for flight controls and electrohydrostatic actuation technology.


Bush admits that being at the "bleeding edge" has been expensive. "From our perspective we are preparing for the future. The lead times of such technologies are substantial - we have been developing VF for five years and are now in a three-year development phase for actuation projects."

Bush also sees major ‘consolidation' occurring within the way aircraft components are prepared and built. That is, it makes more sense to build an engine with power generation built in from the start, rather than bolting on a generator.

"This means that industry may need to team up with each other to develop the systems integration," Bush says. "That could lead to consolidation."

AeroVantix, TRW's own aerospace business "digitisation" product, is also helping the company forge ahead. It predicts a significant improvement in the amount of its global repair and overhaul business conducted electronically by the end of 2002.

AeroVantix incorporates TRWAeroservices.com, an online system for managing repairs, providing customers with 24/7 visibility.

TRW has been selected by South African Airways Technical as a supply integrator to manage the repair and overhaul of the avionics and engine control parts from its Boeing 747, 767 and 737 fleet. The contract will be managed through AeroVantix.

As Bush says: "We see our position in the business as very good - it's a good one to be in."

Source: Flight Daily News