The long-anticipated merger of Vought Aircraft Industries and Aerostructures - both owned by the Carlyle Group - has been announced and is expected to be completed by July.

The downturn in the commercial aerostructures market is the main reason for the merger, which has been discussed almost since the day investment firm Carlyle acquired Vought from Northrop Grumman in 2000.

Carlyle acquired Nashville, Tennessee-based Aerostructures from Textron in 1996, merging it with Brea, California-based Contour Aerospace in 1998. The company now employs 1,400 people and has annual sales of more than $300 million. Vought, based in Dallas, Texas, is already the world's largest independent aerostructures supplier, with more than 5,000 employees and annual revenues of over $1 billion. The merged company will retain the Vought name.

The merger will broaden the customer base for Vought, which gets 85% of its business from Boeing, as Airbus is Aerostructures' biggest customer. There is almost no overlap, although in several cases the two companies supply different components for the same aircraft. Aerostructures, for example, provides the empennage and ramp for the Bell Boeing V-22, while Vought supplies the side-fuselage skins and sponsons. Wings for the Gulfstream G500/550 come from Vought, and those for the G300/400 from Aerostructures.

A transition team has been formed to identify synergies and savings from the merger. Vought will shortly be named to join Boeing's 7E7 technology development team, and the company is anxiously awaiting an agreement on leasing Boeing 767 tankers to the US Air Force because it is a major aerostructures supplier on the aircraft.

Source: Flight International