Liebherr Aerospace is investing 15 million ($18 million) in setting up a manufacturing facility in Brazil as part of a drive to cut costs. Francis Niss, president of Liebherr Aerospace Toulouse, and managing director of holding group Liebherr Aerospace, says the facility is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2006, and will employ around 80 people, writes Helen Massy-Beresford in Toulouse.

The facility, at Guaratingueta, near Embraer’s headquarters at Sao Jose dos Campos, will manufacture the larger pieces of the landing gear and actuators that the company specialises in at its facility in Lindenberg, Germany. Smaller parts will continue to be manufactured in Germany, Niss says, as the transport costs involved in manufacturing them in Brazil would be higher than for the larger parts.

The company already has a 40% stake in a joint venture with the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer-Liebherr Equipamentos do Brasil. The company is not initially intending to seek more work from Embraer through the new facility, Niss says, although “the fact of being located in Brazil will allow us to have a more important commercial position there”.

The weakness of the US dollar is a potential threat to Liebherr’s business, Niss says, although he adds: “We are managing it for the moment as we took out substantial cover when the dollar was stronger and we are trying to buy more and more in the dollar zone.” However, the company is hoping to gain a greater presence in the USA, and is considering options including partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions to do so. “To win a major US contract we need to have a more American image,” Niss says.

Source: Flight International