Farnborough Air Show

Engine demand a boonto sensor maker Auxitrol

 - November 15, 2006, 11:01 AM

Sensor expert Auxitrol (Hall 1 Stand B11) is benefiting from rapid production ramp-up in several engine programs. Products from the Bourges, France-based company are incorporated in the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F and PW615F engines, which power the Eclipse 500 and Cessna Citation Mustang very light jets, respectively. These programs are expected to account for a fair share of Auxitrol’s 50-percent anticipated increase in revenues during the 2005 to 2007 period.

Auxitrol is supplying complete harnesses for the PW600 family on which the sensors are integrated. “Getting rid of the connectors improves reliability and cuts cost,” Alain Durand, the company’s president, told Aviation International News. These sensors provide temperature, pressure and engine speed data.

For the Snecma-NPO Saturn SaM 146 engine, which is to equip the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ), Auxitrol is developing a complete sensor suite in conjunction with Hispano-Suiza. The sensor’s capabilities include detection of debris in fuel and oil. Auxitrol products are also on military turboprop engines–the TP400, which will power the Airbus A400M, and the Rolls-Royce T56, where the engine manufacturer has decided to employ dual-source sensors.

On the Boeing 787 airliner, Auxitrol supplies pressure and flow-measurement sensors for the environment control system (ECS). On the Airbus A380, the equipment manufacturer supplies pressure, temperature and flow-measurement sensors.

Recently, the company has introduced new oil-level sensors which have found applications on the SaM146, TP400 and Rolls-Royce Trent 500/700/800 engines.

Durand explained that the company is rapidly enhancing the pressure sensors. “They can measure smaller pressures, 0.15 bar versus 1 bar, with better precision, 0.5 to 2 percent of the full scale,” he said, adding that they now use silicon-on-insulator technology.

Pressure sensors also can withstand higher temperatures, he said. “This is useful in tires during takeoff and landing,” Durand noted. It also provides more flexibility in engines when design engineers have to choose a sensor’s location.

Technology is not everything, Durand stressed. Auxitrol is also offering so-called tiering services, whereby it manages other equipment makers, reducing the number of suppliers that operators have to deal with. “In addition to ever-greater pressure on prices, our customers insist on our ability to quickly develop new products and adapt to production rate variations,” Durand added.

The company is engaged in cost-reduction actions, having spent, for example, 25,000 man hours on lean-manufacturing implementation, he said. It closed its offices in Paris and has considered outsourcing work on machined parts to low labor-cost countries.

This year, Auxitrol, an Esterline Technologies subsidiary, is increasing its workforce by 20 percent, to 430 employees. Last year, its revenues were ?47 million ($60 million), with a profit margin of roughly 10 to 12 percent. This year, revenues should reach ?58 million ($74 million) and Durand expects them to grow by a further 25 percent in 2007.