Messier-Dowty is at Farnborough fresh from a string of market successes despite the recent tough times. Chairman and chief executive Louis Le Portz talks about the products, programmes and his cautious optimism that the industry is moving out of recession.

Q: Describe your presence at Farnborough and the messages you aim to get across to visitors to the show.

A: Messier-Dowty will have a significant presence at Farnborough, including a large stand featuring landing gears representing programmes from our three business units: Airbus, Boeing/Military, and Business/Regional aircraft. New to the stand this year are mockups of our nose and main landing gear solutions for our latest programme win, the Boeing 7E7. Other gears on display will include the A380 nose gear, A400M main gear, Bombardier Challenger 300 nose gear, Eurofighter Typhoon main gear and Raytheon Hawker Horizon nose gear.

Q: Your past year has seen significant developments in terms of your inclusion on the Boeing 7E7 programme and delivery of the first gear for the Airbus A380 programme. How do you rate your own performance in the past year?

A: Like our parent company Snecma, Messier-Dowty has performed well in spite of challenging economic conditions. In addition to winning the landing gear business for the 7E7, A400M and RRJ programmes, the company has delivered the first nose gear for the A380, the 1,000th gear for the CRJ, continued its significant research and technology activities, and enhanced customer support through our Messier Services joint venture with fellow Snecma Group company, Messier-Bugatti.

Q; Describe the technical innovations that the landing gear on the Boeing 7E7 will feature.

A: It's a bit early to comment on firm configuration for the landing gear, but Messier-Dowty's proposal offered several options to Boeing, each based on one of the following areas: new materials, environment, low cost and low weight. Messier-Dowty engineers are currently working with Boeing during the joint definition phase, defining the landing gear and the aircraft interface and integration requirements, leading towards aircraft firm configuration in 2005.

Also, the company will work as part of a joint Life Cycle Product Team, combining experts from design, test, operations and customer service, to consider all aspects of the landing gears through the life of the aircraft.

Q; What were the challenges you faced in producing the largest set of civil aircraft landing gear (for the Airbus A380) ?

A: Messier-Dowty was selected in 2001 to design, manufacture, test and support the nose landing gear for the A380. The NLG design introduces innovations in terms of landing gear development, namely the introduction of 5,000psi hydraulic pressure - the first time on a commercial aircraft, and the use of High Velocity Oxygen Fuel coating in lieu of the previously standardised chromium coating. This allows the nose landing gear to be more environmental friendly and its hydraulic system to generate more power without a corresponding gain in weight.

Q: The baseline A380 aircraft will almost certainly be followed by even larger and heavier variants: what are the challenges you will face in designing the necessary landing gear?

A: Thanks to extra capacity built into the design without altering the basic standard, the landing gear is able to meet existing take-off weight demands but will also be able to accept higher take-off weights should future A380 variants require this.

Q: There is cautious optimism that the civil aviation industry is emerging from the recession. What is your assessment?

A: We are also cautiously optimistic. Clearly, the civil aviation industry suffered from a series of extremely challenging setbacks including a worldwide economic slowdown, terrorist attacks in the US, SARS in Asia, and instability in the Middle East. All of this has taken place as the traditional mainline carriers experience stiff competition from low-cost carriers. Our hope is that improving economic conditions, gradual geopolitical stabilisation and a competitive airline market will create growth in OEM and MRO markets in the years to come.

Q: On the military side, you were chosen this year as the supplier for the Airbus A400M programme. Beyond this, what is your assessment of the military market in the next few years?

A: The military market is strategic to Messier-Dowty for various reasons. Generally these programmes are technology drivers and often enable us to get a foot in the door on commercial programmes, as our involvement on the JSF X-32 programme did for the 7E7. Messier-Dowty's Boeing and Military BU is a supplier to more than 35 military programmes worldwide. This number alone reveals the importance of the military market to our business.

As for the A400M, we strongly believe in the technologies behind this aircraft, and hence its value as a programme not only for the participating European nations, but also for the export market.

Source: Flight Daily News