GKN Takes Over Former Airbus UK Factory

 - January 6, 2009, 9:48 AM

GKN Aerospace assumed full ownership of the former Airbus wing component and assemblies factory at Filton, UK, on Monday. The UK group has acquired the facility from Airbus for £136 million ($199 million).

The Filton plant makes wing leading and trailing edges for the A330, A340 and A380 widebody airliners. It already holds contracts to manufacture rear spars and trailing edges for the new A350XWB, and plans to produce the first units for that program in the second quarter of 2010.

GKN chief executive Marcus Bryson said yesterday that the former Airbus operation is now seeking aerostructures work for other OEMs, including possible contributions for rival Boeing airliners. The company, which specializes in composite structures, is already a partner on Boeing military programs and it is also pursuing work on Bombardier’s new C-Series airliner.

According to Airbus, the sale of the Filton wing assembly operation completes the restructuring of its aerostructures activities. Under the Power 8 cost-reduction plan devised in 2007 in response to the weakness of the U.S. dollar against the euro, Airbus had intended to sell the UK plant, in addition to several others in France and Germany. In October last year it managed to offload the Laupheim, Germany factory to the Diehl/Thales joint venture, but it could not complete the sale of other facilities. Accordingly, the European airframer’s parent company EADS has opted to run the German Airbus sites at Nordenham and Varel under a new joint venture called Premium Aerotech. Similarly, a new company called Aerolia runs the French locations of Meaulte and St. Nazaire Ville. EADS, rather than Airbus itself, directly owns both of the companies, which began operations on January 1.