Carbonfibre materials specialist Hexcel is to cement its relationship with Airbus via a $250 million investment in production and quality control facilities at Roussillon in France.

The Connecticut-headquartered company was chosen in 2008 as exclusive supplier of carbonfibre prepreg materials for all A350 primary structures, a deal which was the largest in is 65-year history and which now accounts for more than $5 million in content on each A350.

The new plant – to occupy 37 acres at the Osiris chemicals industry platform in Roussillon, close to Hexcel's existing weaving and prepreg manufacturing facilities near Lyon – will also be used to supply Safran with material for CFM International Leap engines. Factory construction is to begin in mid-2015 and the plant should be fully operational, employing 120 people, by mid-2018.

Hexcel expects the A350 programme to deliver $4-5 billion in revenue over its lifetime. Structures made by Airbus and its tier-one suppliers with Hexcel's HexPly M21E prepreg resin include entire fuselage panels, keel beam, the entire wing (covers, spars and centre wing-box) and empennage.

Chief executive Nick Stanage says the new plant will "provide greater opportunities for aerospace industry growth".

Airbus boss Fabrice Brégier says the investment "supports Airbus requirements for A350 XWB composite primary structures and underlines the strong partnership between Airbus and Hexcel".

Hexcel, which ranks 54th in the latest edition of the Flightglobal Top 100 league table with 2013 aerospace revenue of $1.46 billion, expects to record total 2014 sales of up to $1.86 billion. Outside of aerospace and defence, its carbonfibre materials are used in applications ranging from wind-turbine blades to the French-made wheels used by 2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nabali.

Source: Cirium Dashboard