Julian Moxon/PARIS Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

EADS is increasing its US presence through the launch of another transatlantic joint venture - this time on the back of the Airbus sales boom. EADS Airframe Services, offering commercial aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO), is to be established as a joint venture between the European firm's Sogerma subsidiary and Northrop Grumman.

Based at the US company's Lake Charles, Louisiana, site, the new business will be the first US MRO facility to be launched by EADS (and, hence, Airbus, in which it has an 80% stake). It will also service aircraft produced by ATR, 50%-owned by EADS. Sogerma, which will control 81% of the venture, already has a US subsidiary, Barfield, which offers Airbus avionics maintenance in Miami and Phoenix.

EADS is launching Airframe Services following several big wins for Airbus in North America, which could see more than 1,000 of its aircraft in service there by 2004. Sogerma will market the facility to US carriers and expects to take in its first aircraft in March or April next year.

The joint venture should offset workforce reductions expected at Lake Charles as Northrop Grumman's Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System refurbishment work for the US Air Force slows to one Boeing 707 a year. The two operations will be separate.

Northrop Grumman says that the joint venture offers "a low-cost MRO facility to support our requirements sector-wide, a stable workforce at Lake Charles and the further extension of our strategic relationship with EADS".

Source: Flight International