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Alenia aims to add A350 workshare

Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aeronautica unit is negotiating to increase its contribution to Airbus production activities, which could see the company take a minority share in the A350 programme by the middle of the year. The Italian manufacturer is already a major participant in production of the rival Boeing 787, writes Pino Modola in Genoa.

The A350 talks were confirmed this month by Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert. Humbert said the talks will result in an agreement by mid-2006. Alenia is already a supplier to the A320 family and A380 programmes, building around 5% of the latter’s airframe.

Alenia Aeronautica sources confirm the company’s strong interest in increasing its ties with Airbus, to reach a workshare between 5% and 6% of total A350 production. Alenia aims to secure work to build the twinjet’s fuselage section 15, as well as the section adjacent to the wing box. A350 assemblies – which unlike the 787 will be constructed from aluminium rather than carbonfibre – would be produced in northern Italy, where A380 components are built.

On the 787, Alenia has an initial $1.1 billion order to produce components for 150 aircraft at Grottaglie in southern Italy. The company has formed a joint venture with Vought for its 787 activities, which will see it produce fuselage and tail section components and carry out static and fatigue testing work on the horizontal stabiliser.

Meanwhile, Italy’s competition authority has given a green light to Alenia’s parent Finmeccanica to take over the Grottaglie plants of Atitech, Alitalia’s AzServices overhaul unit in southern Italy. Alenia sources say Atitech will continue its current activities, but company employees could be redeployed to build 787 components when the new factory is completed in Grottaglie.

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