Aerostructures are the parts of an aircraft that make up its structure: wing, fuselage, empennage, engine mounts. A few companies are driving this sector.
The main aerostructure manufacturers are the Americans Spirit AeroSystems and Triumph Group, the British GKN, the Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the Airbus group subsidiaries Stelia Aerospace and Premium Aerotec, and the French companies Latécoère and Daher-Socata. These companies are aeronautical equipment manufacturers working for major groups such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, and ATR.
A technological breakthrough:
Boeing initiated a technological breakthrough in aerostructures with the launch of the 787 by replacing aluminum with composite materials and carbon fiber, with the aim of saving weight and therefore fuel consumption and performance, and Airbus followed suit with the A350. The evolution of this technological leap seems to lie in thermoplastic composites, which are being explored more and more, and which would respond to the same problem of weight savings.
During the presentation of the Airbus Group’s results for 2020, Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, said about its aerostructures subsidiaries (Stelia Aerospace and Premium Aerotec) “These activities must remain within Airbus because they are core businesses. They were finalized ten years ago, perhaps with the idea, at the time, of selling them. This is not the case today. With this statement, Airbus is very clearly announcing its strategy to strengthen its industrial base, with the objective of gaining efficiency and competitiveness by keeping these activities at the heart of Airbus. A key tool in this strategy is the DDMS.
DDMS, for Digital Design, Manufacturing and Services, is a digital transformation tool designed to improve the transmission of information between all the businesses involved in order to provide more efficient, accurate and effective analyses and solutions to customers, thereby accelerating timelines and added value. This tool consolidates the aerostructures sector, which is in full acceleration following the health crisis. Indeed, this crisis has put some players in this sector in difficulty and has consequently increased competition. Within the aerostructures sector, about 150 companies share the field, including a dozen global heavyweights. Airbus is one of them, and has a considerable advantage, being present on all four segments of the market (wing, fuselage, empennage, engine mounts), hence their interest in wanting to keep and accentuate the integration of their subsidiaries Stelia Aerospace and Premium Aerotec, which are present on the fuselage segment and represent between 5% and 10% of the market each.
This strategy seems to be working for Airbus, despite the uncertainties linked to the pandemic context, and Airbus is increasing the pace. Executive Chairman Guillaume Faury said: “These half-year results reflect our commercial aircraft deliveries, our focus on cost reduction and competitiveness, as well as the good performance of Helicopters and Defence and Space. Despite the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numerous measures deployed by our teams have enabled us to achieve a solid performance in the first half. We are therefore in a position to raise our 2021 guidance, despite the still unpredictable context.”
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