Rainer Ott is attending his final Berlin air show as president of Diehl Aerosystems before retiring on 30 September to be succeeded by former Airbus executive Rainer von Borstel. Ott talks to Flight Daily News about his expectations for this year's show
How does Diehl's presence at this year's show compare with ILA 2008?
Our stand is a little bit bigger so that we can step up our presence. We have fully integrated the products from Aircabin in Laupheim, which we acquired in 2008. Aircabin was not represented at the last ILA. We have also acquired Dasell Cabin Interior, but we have not yet completed the deal - the closing will be completed around the beginning of ILA, I hope. We cannot really have Dasell on our stand yet, but we have one of their products: the prototype "flexible space concept" lavatory.
How do you read the mood of the industry at ILA 2010?
I think exhibitors have come to the show with more or less their full product portfolios, and this has not been restricted by the financial crisis. Of course we all know that it will have an impact on us sooner or later. Airbus and Boeing reduced their production rates and this had a certain impact, but it is not really serious. If there is no other impact from the financial crisis or the euro crisis or whatever, then we could have an upturn in the business in 2011 or 2012. But we cannot foresee what will happen in the next few weeks with our European currency so it is business as usual for the time being and we present everything we have, and I see our colleagues doing the same.
Have the delays to Airbus A380 deliveries had a major impact on your business?
Yes it is affecting us because we have a lot of content in the A380, and so far the more they deliver the better it is for us. We have spent a lot of money on development - all in all we have more than 12 programmes for products or systems developed for the A380. With the low production rate we cannot amortise this money in the foreseen time, but if we come to a production rate of 20 and above - and it looks like Airbus can do that - then this will be sufficient for us to be able to say we are in a reasonable situation.
On the Lufthansa A380 you will some of our equipment: all the cabin equipment and the floor-to-floor system. What you cannot see is the air ducting behind. You can also visit the crew rest compartment, which is one coming from Diehl Aircabin. What you can also see are the display systems in the cockpit, which are all coming from our joint venture with Thales. We did the flight-control systems, the door-closing systems and so on. There are a lot of electronics also, which are not visible in the cabin.
Do you still derive value from exhibiting at air shows?
Yes I think we have additional value from attending shows. First of all it's a plus that the most important aerospace companies in the world are coming together and we have a unique possibility to have discussions and meetings within one week.
The second thing is you really can show your products to other potential customers such as Indian, Japanese or Chinese companies. We are quite new coming into the role as a cabin integrator and this is something we want to present to these companies. At the last ILA we had a lot more foreign aerospace companies from Asia and so on and they see us and talk to us and we come together and agree co-operation. China is a huge market for the future and we need to get a foothold there, and these companies are coming to the ILA and this is a good opportunity to make first contact and talk to them.
Will Diehl be exhibiting at the Farnborough air show next month?
For 10 years there has been a fight over whether Berlin or Farnborough will survive. So far we go only to Farnborough if our customers require it. We see that many UK companies and Boeing are also only coming to ILA if it's important for them. We are not exhibiting at Farnborough, like many German companies.
What will you be promoting at ILA?
The news is that we have acquired Dasell of course, and that the takeover will have a certain meaning for us. This is an important message for the market. I think together with Dasell we have the competencies required to become a comprehensive cabin integrator. We are one of three such companies worldwide, and we have the unique advantage that we have a lot of additional electronic capabilities for the cabin.
We can apply our electronic cabin competencies such as our interior lighting systems, for which we are market leader. We can combine lighting with the cabin systems and create a certain atmosphere in the cabin, as required by the customer.
How has Airbus's new approach to procuring cabin systems affected Diehl?
After the A350 Airbus will definitely have a different approach. They will ask a company to deliver a complete cabin system, including galley. The galley was until now buyer-furnished equipment, but in future Airbus will buy the galley and supply it to the airline. We should be in a position to supply a complete cabin system, and if a competency is missing it's our task to have the right companies to co-operate with.
But we already have the knowledge for floor-to-floor systems, air ducting, electronic cabin equipment and integrated modular avionics systems in the cabin, and now competence also for lavatories. We don't have the full competence for the galley and so far we have to co-operate with the galley manufacturer, whoever this will be. For the A350 we already have our cabin packages - there is nothing left open for us to acquire.
Do you foresee further consolidation in the European cabin systems supplier base?
There is a certain pressure in the market, maybe caused by reductions in production rates but also caused by the willingness of Airbus and Boeing to ask for major systems: they want to reduce the number of suppliers from more than 500 on the A380 to fewer than 25 suppliers.
This will come down to five major suppliers if they ask for offers for the A320 NEO cabin equipment. If the number of suppliers is to be reduced, there is pressure on the smaller suppliers to come together with the larger suppliers. This will result in more and more acquisitions of smaller companies.
Source: Flight Daily News