After spending the early years of his career as an engineer in the automotive industry, a move to the aviation sector was a logical progression for Ian Edmondson, chairman and managing director of Dunlop Aircraft Tyres

How did you get into aviation?

I'm an engineer and, while working in the automotive industry earlier in my career, I supplied products to the aviation sector.

These included carbonfibre resin impregnated composite tie bars that were used as wing struts for fixing the wing halves to the wingbox on the fuselage of wide-bodied Airbus aircraft.

Ian Edmondson
 © Dunlop Aircraft Tyres
Edmondson: proud of Dunlop Aircraft Tyres' 100 years of history

In other positions I worked with composite and elastomeric materials and this experience is relevant to my current position.As I loved working in the aviation industry, joining Dunlop Aircraft Tyres seemed an exciting natural progression, particularly with the opportunities for global expansion as the business approached its centenary year.

Describe a typical week

There is no typical week. I'm responsible for the day-to-day management of the business as well as the direction and leadership of our strategic projects.

During the past two years I have been working on strategic projects in China and then Japan.

We created a joint venture tyre distribution and retread centre in China, partnering Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering (HAECO) and its Chinese subsidiary TAECO.

About a year ago, I started talks with the Yokohama Rubber Company and this led to our purchase of the company's aircraft tyre manufacturing assets and associated dynamometer. These are supporting our accelerated drive into radial aircraft tyres and will help with the launch of new products including radials for the Boeing 777. I also visit major customers and spend time with our investors and bankers. Walking round the company at Fort Dunlop, where we have been based for most of our 100 years, and giving twice-yearly employee briefings is very important.

What are the best things about working for Dunlop?

We are charged with one of the world's leading brands and we have the opportunity of reinvigorating it in our particular marketplace.

Convince us tyres are exciting

Tyres are the only part of the aircraft in contact with the ground, they transmit all forces - braking, steering and so on - and contribute to reduced airframe fatigue and improved passenger comfort. They must deal with earthmover loads at Formula 1 speeds.

What are the next big developments that you can tell us about?

Smart tyres that incorporate various sensing technologies, Greener tyres that are lighter for reduced fuel burn but maintain retreadability and tyres that continue to offer improvements to foreign object damage resistance.

How is the company's new venture in China progressing?

Dunlop's first overseas facility came about last November with the opening of our new tyre distribution and retread centre in the south-east of the country. Having acquired CAAC and EASA approvals we are now retreading aircraft tyres in China. We announced Mandarin Airlines as our first customer and a number of others have followed.By partnering with HAECO and TAECO we have been given instant access to the local market.

How do you see the outlook?

While the market is showing signs of recovery, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East is recovering more quickly than Europe. I believe we will continue to see continued airline consolidation in mature markets such as Europe and North America.

This will increase competition among aircraft tyre manufacturers and we are well placed to compete.

Source: Flight International