Farnborough Air Show

Figeac branches out into hard metal

 - July 17, 2010, 12:09 AM

Part and subassembly specialist Figeac Aero is a first-time exhibitor here at the Farnborough airshow (Hall 1 Stand A15), with the news that it is expanding its activities to include hard metal machining. After having been badly hit by the economy last year, the French company hopes revenues are back on an ascending curve.

“We have begun to grow our business in the UK through our first contracts with Airbus’s factories in Broughton and Filton,” sales and marketing v-p Luc Rouan told AIN. Figeac Aero has also contacts with Rolls-Royce, GKN and Spirit AeroSystems in Britain, and he indicated that it sees its relationship with Spirit as a step to eventually reach Boeing.

“We are expanding the hard metal machining activity–steel, titanium and inconel [a specialist alloy]–in a new building with more machines,” Rouan said. The company also is adding aluminum extruded parts to its product range and it plans to increase the number of machines it employs for aluminum, titanium and extrusion milling from 40 to 70.

The firm also now can provide entire work packages, from design to manufacturing. “We are a risk-sharing partner with Aerolia for the Airbus A350’s floor in Section 12,” Rouan said. The subassembly, which is located in the forward section, close to the passenger door, will be made of aluminum and titanium. Figeac also does work on Section 15 of Airbus’s A330.

Opening Tunisia Facility
Continuing its expansion plans, the company is set to open an aluminum machining facility in Tunisia, hoping to benefit from lower labor costs there. The factory is scheduled to start operations in the first half of 2011 with 15 employees–a number expected to rise to 150 over three to four years.

According to Rouan, Figeac Aero’s revenues dropped from ?64 million ($77 million) in 2008 to ?48 million ($58 million) in 2009. The company forecasts it will be back to ?64 million this year and grow to ?90 million ($108 million) in 2011 and ?110 million ($132 million) in 2012, as a result of a growing workload from Airbus, Embraer, Aerolia and Bombardier, among others. “We’ll begin being busy with the A350 in [the] 2013 to 2014 [time frame],” Rouan added.

However, the recent downturn has taken its toll on the company’s own workforce. In 2008, it employed 520 in France before cutting back to 470 the next year. The workforce now numbers approximately 500 and Figeac said the company anticipates increasing that headcount by another 150 to 200 in the near term.