Division reorganises 17 businesses to drive efficiencies and share best practice

UK company Cobham is reforming its new Aerospace Systems division to ensure its 17 businesses work closer, compete more efficiently and swap best practice.

The division - set up last year and which comprises companies such as Flight Refuelling, FR Countermeasures, Sargent Fletcher, Conax, Stanley Aviation and Carleton - is being organised into four sectors: air-to-air refuelling; life support; fluid and air distribution; and countermeasures. "We needed to get a better focus," says Aerospace Systems group managing director Andy Stevens. "This way we can create centres of excellence which will allow one company to bid for a piece of work, but backfeed across the whole portfolio."

Speaking at last month's Asian Aerospace show in Singapore, Stevens said he is also assessing potential takeover targets in the USA and Europe. "We are looking typically at acquisitions of up to £50 million [$90 million]," says Stevens, a Cobham main board director. "But we are only interested in businesses where we can enhance value. It's not just a case of buying to increase our market share."

The company has opened a plant in Milan, Tennessee to build flare-based missile countermeasures systems. Stevens says adapting the technology - also offered by its Wallop Defence Systems (WDS) subsidiary in the UK - from military use to the civil market is a "huge opportunity".

The $50,000 cost is a fraction of that of a directed infrared countermeasures system, he says, dismissing the dangers of dropping flares over cities. "The flares burn out in 2-3s. They don't set houses on fire. The only debris is 25g of polyurethane."

Cobham, a 25% shareholder in the AirTanker consortium that won the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft contest in January, releases its annual results next week.


Source: Flight International