The industry may be bumping through its worst slump in decades, but Eaton Aerospace (hall 2B, D19) is buoyant about the future thanks to its prime position on a number of key programmes that are ramping up production.

The US company - part of $15.4 billion Eaton - is a major fuel and hydraulics systems supplier to the Boeing 787, the Embraer Phenom 100 and 300 very light and light jets, and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

"Our main strength is that we have a great mix across all the segments and products and it means we are weathering the downturn pretty well," says Eaton Aerospace president Bradley Morton. "When I see businesses that are heavily dependent on business aviation, you know they are really hurting."

The Dreamliner is Eaton's biggest ever Boeing contract - it supplies hydraulic and electrical systems - and after the long delay in the flight- test programme, Morton cannot wait for it to take to the air, an event likely to take place any day now. "It will be an emotional high," he says. "As a supplier, you dedicate five or six years of your life to a particular aircraft. Of course, first flight is just the start of a new phase in the programme, but it is when everything has to work flawlessly and when issues do come up they have to be resolved immediately."

The F-35 is another vital piece of business. "It's our largest content ever on a military fighter and will be a really nice boost for us in 2010-11," says Morton. For the Phenoms, Eaton is supplying flaps, hydraulic systems, cockpit panels and electrical power systems.

Eaton Aerospace turns over around $1.8 billion, with half its business (excluding US military contracts) in the civil sector. It has made three major acquisitions in the past three and a half years and Morton does not rule out further takeovers that fit into its strategy of "vertical integration of intellectual property".

He says: "We want to be able to offer a system but also optimise the components within that system."

Aerospace remains a growth priority for the parent company, adds Morton.

Source: Flight Daily News