Airbus Identifies Bidders for Laupheim Plant Outsourcing

Airbus has narrowed to two the shortlist of potential investors in its German cabin interiors plant at Laupheim. Executive vice-president for programmes Tom Williams told Flight International the airframer hopes to choose between a partnership of France-based Thales and Germany's Diehl, and French aeronautical systems manufacturer Zodiac, by the time it finalises plans to divest its Filton, UK wings plant to GKN. He says Laupheim's line of business makes its sales less susceptible to the issues that scuppered plans to sell three German plants to MT Aerospace and two French facilities to Latécoère. Separately, Airbus says it has set a three-year window to find risk-sharing buyers for the plants that were to have been sold to MT and Latécoère.

Cobham Heats up With Microwave Acquisition

Cobham has taken a "significant step" towards its ambition of becoming a global Tier 2 subsystem supplier of integrated radio frequency front ends for radars and electronic warfare systems with the acquisition of the radio frequency components and subsystems business of microwave subsystems maker M/A-COM from Tyco Electronics for $425 million cash. For the year ended 30 September 2007, M/A-COM generated operating profits of $37.9 million on revenue of $477.7 million Cobham will retain the aerospace and defence business, which represents nearly 40% of M/A revenue, and divest the rest. The acquired business will operate under an existing Special Security Agreement with the US Department of Defense.

Israel Aerospace Extends India Reach

Israel Aerospace Industries and Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) are to form a joint venture company to develop, manufacture, market and support missiles, unmanned air vehicles, radars, electronic warfare systems and homeland security systems in India. TASL is a wholly owned subsidiary of India's Tata Industries, focused on providing integrated solutions for defence and aerospace.

Boeing, Machinists Open Contract Talks

Boeing and International Association of Machinists (IAM), the union representing 26,000 of the company's employees, have started contract negotiations and the airframer hopes to have a new agreement in place by 4 September. Key issues include wage and pension increases, performance-based incentive pay, employment stability during the business cycle and outsourcing of engineering work. In 2005, IAM staged a four-week strike before reaching a three-year agreement.

Vought Posts Financial Improvement

Texas-based Vought Aircraft Industries posted a 47% increase in profits to $28.7 million for the three months to the end of March on revenue up 11.7% to $425.4 million thanks in part to rising revenue from Airbus A330 and Boeing 747-8 and 787 programmes. However, Vought forecasts no 787 profit until after the delivery of the first production block of 300 shipsets and is shoring up its cash position through loans and cash advances from Boeing.

Spirit Aero Joins Airbus Team With A350 Win

Kansas-based Spirit AeroSystems, a spin-off of a former Boeing division, has won its first contract on a new Airbus programme. Spirit will design and build the Section 15 centre fuselage frame section for the Airbus A350 XWB family in a new plant that will open in North Carolina in 2010.

Source: Flight International