Aerostructures and engine components manufacturer Figeac Aero is back on track after being badly hit by the downturn in business aviation and the collapse of a key customer.

The privately run Figeac-based company - which has no connection with UTC-owned propeller specialist Ratier Figeac other than their shared home town in south-west France - supplies structures to Airbus, Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer and Spirit AeroSystems, and engine and landing gear components to Safran.

It had the contract to provide a bulkhead and other panels to Eclipse Aerospace and lost a lot of money and was left with redundant inventory when the very light jet maker folded last year.

However, president and founder Jean-Claude Maillard expects sales to return to 2008 levels this year and expand significantly next year thanks to the ramp up of programmes such as the Airbus A350 XWB, for which it is designing and manufacturing the section 12 floor assembly.

It is also outsourcing lower-value manufacturing to a new subsidiary in Tunisia, which will begin production in September and will be employing 250 people by 2012.

"We have invested considerably in high-speed machines in Figeac and we will be keeping our top level technology and people there. However, with Tunisia we are planning to have the best production organisation. It is a global industry and most of my competitors can deliver the right product at the right time. We want to do it at the right price too."

Figeac Aero employs 550 people in France and will turn over €65 million ($83 million) this year.

Source: Flight Daily News