One of Safran's most ambitious moves has been to establish a manufacturing plant for its Aircelle nacelles business in Casablanca in Morocco, opened in 2006 as only the second Aircelle plant outside France and a good case study of a successful move to a low-cost base. As manufacturing engineering manager Pierre Champtiaux says, young people locally have good technical skills and several local recruits have been promoted to management of the 400-person operation.

Aircelle rigorously applies French health, safety and quality standards, and Champtiaux says while the goal is to be as good as Aircelle's plants in France and the UK, "the Moroccans will tell you they're better!"

The plant's key product - thrust reversers a year for Rolls-Royce BR710 engines - shows what is possible, he says: that programme was historically behind schedule, and had at one point lost its R-R quality certification, but after it was moved from France to Casablanca, it was brought back on track.

Looking further ahead, Casablanca is pushing to be an Aircelle centre of composites excellence. A sign it is getting there is its in-house development of a Bombardier Learjet 200 fan case.

It is obvious to any visitor that the Moroccans are a very young workforce, which Aircelle president Vincent Mascre sees as a great strength, with the BR710 episode showing that a low-cost location can also bring drive and energy.

Source: Flight Daily News