Stork Aerospace has grown into a significant first-tier aerospace player, rapidly building up its aerostructures and electrical systems businesses, and providing comprehensive support for Fokker 50s and 100s. Kees de Koning, president of Stork Aerospace, explains the Dutch company's strategy to Mark Pilling.


Q: How do you rate the progress of Stork Aerospace since 1996 when Dutch industrial group Stork bought the activities of bankrupt Fokker Aircraft?

A: Our main activities are in aerostructures, electrical systems and services: we are not an integrator any more. If you look at the first two areas, we have basically started a new company with new customers and built up a portfolio very quickly over these years growing at 10-20% per year. Our developments are mainly based on innovative solutions, and we position ourselves not as a "me-too" company, but as one that has solutions others don't. For example, our thermoplastic composites that were brought in on the Airbus A340, and Fokker Elmo's design and configuration management system that has been chosen by Lockheed Martin for the electrical wiring on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Q: There is often talk of consolidation among first-tier aerospace manufacturers, how fast will this occur and what role will Stork Aerospace play?

A: There are maybe 10 real design-and-build aerospace companies. We are not the largest, but on the other hand our design capabilities and our available technology are at least the equal of any one. The way people see us is a company with a lot of potential but still needing the volume. Our current volume does not hurt us, but when further consolidation comes in this business it will grow. Consolidation will not be fast but steady, stretching over the next 10 years leaving us with five or six major aerostructures companies. We intend to play a major role in that consolidation, and are at this stage looking at the possibilities of acquisitions.

Q: One of the most prominent programmes for Stork Aerospace has been the Glare composite selected for skin panels on the A380 - what other applications do you see for this technology?

A: Obviously the focus of Glare has been on the A380, with the whole process of material qualification, development of the manufacturing process, designing the products with Airbus and building a huge Glare factory. We have had our hands full there so we made a decision to make the A380 programme a success and then look at other applications, of which we see lots. For example, with Airbus we are looking at Glare for the leading edge of the vertical tail where impact performance is the design criteria and not fatigue performance.

Q: What is your relationship with Boeing, and will Stork Aerospace gain a role in the proposed 7E7 airliner?

A: We are aiming for balance in our portfolio - in defence and commercial - with the last step being a partner for Airbus, but also for Boeing. We have quite a large business with Boeing - mainly in defence as a supplier for the Apache helicopter and C-17 transport aircraft. Stork Aerospace has been a technology partner in Boeing's Sonic Cruiser and is on the 7E7 team at the moment. We are currently discussing our role in the 7E7, and are basically trying to get a business case. At the moment we are not discussing Glare with Boeing for the 7E7.

Q: In the maintenance field, Fokker Services has been boosted by several Fokker 100 jets returning to duty - how do you see the services business developing?

We didn't like it that both US Airways and American Airlines were going to drop the Fokker 100 from their fleets, but at the same time it gave another opportunity to get these aircraft operating at other companies. The Fokker 100 is an excellent aircraft for low-cost start-ups. The current fleet of more than 1,000 airliners of all types, from F-27 to Fokker 70, will not increase, but a large number of these aircraft are very new, so we expect business for years to come. In defence services, we are the only party in the Netherlands so we do a lot of work for the Netherlands Air Force, and are part of the Boeing global support network for military aircraft in the region.

Source: Flight Daily News