Lucas Aerospace, fresh from its Rolls-Royce engines-control deal, has put down its marker as a potential leader in the expected consolidation of the industry.

"We have very ambitious plans for Lucas Aerospace," says Victor Rice, chairman of Lucas Varity, the parent company formed by the Anglo-US link-up of the two predominantly automotive-parts groups in mid-1996. With the post-merger rationalisation now complete, including the sale of the Perkins diesel engine unit, the group appears to be targeting aerospace as an area of growth.

The latest comments come after the unit's risk-sharing deal with R-R, potentially worth £2 billion, to provide engine controls and fuel pumps for the Trent 500/600.

Ken Maciver, Lucas Aerospace managing director, reckons that the Trent deal will raise the firm's share of the large-civil-engine controls market to 35% or more over the next decade as R-R sales increase. Lucas, which is already largely tied to R-R engines and, in 1997, bought Smiths out of its ROSEC joint venture with the company, estimates that it has 18% of the market.

The new Trent work will be backed by an investment of about £75 million over the next four years largely in product development. Maciver says that Lucas will also be in the market for another 200 engineers, mainly in the UK, as the work expands.

Maciver adds that the group also has ambitions to "-stay as a market leader" in the actuation and power-generation sectors, and does not rule out acquisitions if opportunities emerge.

Speculation has Lucas as a likely bidder for all or part of the remaining TI Dowty business, following the UK group's decision to sell out its share in the core Messier-Dowty landing-gear operation to partner Snecma. The rest of Dowty has sales of around £250 million in engine components, hydraulics and actuation, as well as propellers.

Source: Flight International