- Premium Projects. By: Flottau, Jens, Aviation Week & Space Technology, 00052175, 2/2/2009, Vol. 170, Issue 5
Having failed to find buyers, EADS pins hopes on French and German facilities as subsidiaries
EADS’s newly created subsidiary in Germany, Premium Aerotec, plans heavy investment in technology and infrastructure to help it become an independent Tier 1 aerospace supplier in the next three years.
The company was formally created in January as a combination of the two former Airbus sites in Nordenham and Varel and the ex-EADS facility in Augsburg, Germany. Premium Aerotec produces large fuselage sections for the Airbus A320 and A330/340 series, among others, but also specializes in components such as the A380 cabin floor, cargo doors or the Boeing 787 rear pressure bulkhead.
Originally, Airbus and EADS planned to sell the sites as a part of the Power8 restructuring program and a strategic shift to a focused systems integration role. But negotiations with several potential buyers, including Spirit AeroSystems and OHB Technology, failed partly because of the early effects of the global financial crisis and the weak dollar and partly because of the cost-savings and productivity targets Airbus demanded. When the sales could not be realized, EADS decided to merge the facilities into a new wholly owned subsidiary.
Meanwhile, the Airbus sites in Meaulte and Saint-Nazaire, France, have been combined into a subsidiary called Aerolia.
An agreement with German unions stipulates that EADS cannot sell a majority stake in Premium Aerotec in the next three years. As a consequence, it must shoulder urgently needed technology investment at the German sites that it had expected new owners would take on. EADS is already burdened with additional costs in the A380 program, unforeseen and as yet undefined costs for the A400M military airlifter and the upcoming A350XWB program.
Premium Aerotec CEO Hans Lon-singer, former head of the Augsburg site, estimates the company will need around €500 million ($660 milion) in the next three years, mainly for technology upgrades and infrastructure to handle carbon-fiber materials. Although contracts are not yet signed, the unit is slated to build sections 13/14 and 16/18 of the new Airbus A350-XWB–the fuselage sections in front of and behind the center wingbox. Lonsinger also hopes Premium Aerotec will be selected to supply its cabin floor and rear pressure bulkhead, which has been produced at Airbus’s Stade plant for the A330/340 series.
Suppliers for major new airplane programs such Boeing’s 787 and 747-8 or Airbus’s A350 are all but decided where, when and how that goal will be pursued. Nevertheless, the company plans to grow either through acquisitions or greenfield sites, likely in the U.S.
In addition to technology ugrades, Premium Aerotec has other fields to work on, too. The company wants to separate from EADS IT-systems completely by the end of this year and set up its accounting and administration. The site sales failed last year in part because “three sites were for sale, but not a company,” Lonsinger says.
By the end of 2010, Premium Aerotec has to deliver an 8% productivity improvement it committed to in the Power8 savings goals. But it will not be exposed to euro/dollar currency rate fluctuations until 2011, when it becomes available for sale again.
PHOTO (COLOR): At its sites in Germany, Premium Aerotec specializes in building fuselage sections and subassemblies, such as cargo doors.
By Jens Flottau, Augsburg, Germany
“Copyright 2009 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. http://www.mcgraw-hill.com