EADS can lay claim to having the most diverse portfolio of products of any aerospace company. The company's subsidiaries and joint ventures include French light-aircraft builder Socata, regional aircraft manufacturer Avions de Transport Regional (ATR), maintenance and modification house Sogerma, and Elbeflugzeugwerke (EFW), a German unit that specialises in freighter conversions. All these relatively small businesses come within EADS's Aeronautics division, which is run directly by co-chief executive Rainer Hertrich since the retirement of previous head Dietrich Russell in March. Until last year, the division also included military aircraft, but this was moved over into the enlarged Defence & Security Systems.

In 2003, the division recorded revenues of €3.8 billion ($4.57 billion), with Eurocopter responsible for 68% of sales, Sogerma 17%, ATR 7% and EFW and Socata 4% each. The four small businesses have had mixed fortunes since joining the EADS camp. Toulouse-based ATR - 50% owned by Finmeccanica - was formed in 2001 when France's Aerospatiale and Italy's Aeritalia merged their regional turboprop designs to launch the 42-seat ATR 42 and its stretched sister the ATR 72. But the company has struggled against the trend to regional jets and competition from Bombardier's Q400. ATR is now putting more focus on developing freighter versions of its aircraft. Many believe the company ought to be folded into Airbus, where it would benefit from production economies and technology, but Finmeccanica's statement that it has no intention of selling its stake in ATR would appear to make that unlikely.

There was some doubt whether Aerospatiale Matra subsidiary Socata would be integrated into EADS. Socata, based at Tarbes near Toulouse, manufactures the four-seat TB series and TBM 700 business turboprop and delivers around 100 aircraft a year, with 5,800 Socatas in service. Like ATR, its market has been hit by competition and an increasing part of the company's revenues now come from its components and structures business.

EFW has its roots in East Germany as VEB Flugzeugwerft Dresden. After the Berlin Wall came down, EFW was formed as a joint venture with Airbus, specialising in freighter conversions. Since 1990, the company has delivered 105 converted aircraft to 18 customers, and has a backlog of 20 orders. Chief executive Horst Emker says that by next year the plant will be operating close to capacity and will deliver at least 13 aircraft.

EADS Sogerma has carved a niche in the maintenance, repair and overhaul market. With a history dating to 1924, the Bordeaux-based business is one of the most successful EADS units in the US market, with two subsidiaries there, as well as operations in Morocco and Tunisia. Its flagship product remains Airbus's A300-600ST Beluga freighter, but its core business includes engine and APU maintenance, VIP modifications and cabin outfitting.

EADS PZL in Poland sits not in the Aeronautics division, but in Military Transport. EADS owns 85% of the company as a result of an offset deal which sees the Warsaw factory carry out final assembly of the Polish air force's C-295 transport aircraft. PZL's own range of general aviation aircraft, which includes the 160A Koliber, 104 Wilga and 130 Orlik, are marketed through EADS Casa in Madrid. Some have suggested that the range might be merged with Socata into a new integrated general aviation business, although Spanish interests within EADS are believed to be hostile to the idea.

EADS's head of strategy Jean-Louis Gergorin says the small businesses are essential to the company's claim to be a "global leader in aerospace with an almost exhaustive scope of products". All of them, he insists, have the "potential to evolve".



Source: Flight International