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Woodward Ramps Up To Meet Engine Component Demand

 - June 19, 2013, 12:30 PM

Aircraft propulsion and actuation systems supplier Woodward is nearly doubling its manufacturing footprint in Rockford, Illinois, reflecting the increased content the company has won on new narrowbody aircraft and derivatives.

Woodward (Hall 3 Stand D82) broke ground on a new 444,000-sq-ft facility in Rockford on May 17. The new facility represents an investment of $300 million and will focus on producing fuel system line replaceable units for CFM International Leap and Pratt & Whitney PurePower engines. It adds to the company’s existing, 500,000-sq-ft facility in Rockford for the design, test and manufacture of engine controls, including fuel, actuation and air handling systems.

“We’re planning to be 18 months ahead of our customers,” said Thomas Gendron, Woodward chairman, CEO and president. “We want to be able to ramp up quickly (to meet demand) with no glitches.”

Woodward, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, designs, manufactures and services control systems for the aerospace and energy markets. Its aerospace segment logged sales of $896 million in fiscal year 2012. The company’s expansion reflects new content associated with the Leap-1B engine that will power the new Boeing 737 Max and Comac C919 narrowbodies, and the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1000-series engines designated for the Airbus A320neo, Bombardier CSeries, Mitsubishi MRJ, Irkut MS-21 and second-generation Embraer E-Jets.

The expansion will accommodate work on “the newest programs, primarily the narrowbodies, but also where it fits for our existing programs,” Gendron said, including systems associated with the Engine Alliance (GE and Pratt & Whitney) GP7200 engine that powers the Airbus A380 and the GE Aviation GEnx engine used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-8.

Woodward is also adding to its product line. In December, the company signed a purchase agreement with GE Aviation Systems to acquire GE’s hydraulic thrust reverser actuation systems business in Duarte, California for $200 million. The facility produces systems used on the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, 747 and 777. The parties also entered into a preferred supplier agreement for the systems.

In line with the trend of airframers acquiring integrated engine and nacelle offerings, Gendron said Woodward aims to be an integrated supplier of engine and nacelle control systems in partnership with engine manufacturers.