Paris Air Show

Figeac's Growth Shows French Expertise Winning on World Stage

 - June 19, 2017, 4:40 PM

Figeac Aero is arguably one of France’s most dynamic suppliers to Airbus and Boeing. Since 2012, the company has achieved average annual revenue growth of 23 percent, and on May 31 it announced a 29 percent increase to reach €325.3 million ($364.9 million) for the financial year that ended on March 31, 2017. The company, which is based in southwestern France and has facilities in the U.S., Mexico, Morocco and Tunisia, employs around 3,000 people.

Diversification of its portfolio has been a key part in Figeac Aero’s recent success. For example, last October, Israel Aerospace Industries chose the company to make large aluminum aerostructures for the larger fuselage packages it is supplying for the new Boeing 777X. Then in January, it signed another big contract with Spirit AeroSystems to support the work of the U.S. aerostructures company for the Airbus A350XWB, as well as for Boeing’s 737 and 777 programs.

We’re very proud that Spirit AeroSystems renewed its confidence in us,” commented Jean-Claude Maillard, founder and CEO of Figeac Aero. The contract has allowed company to diversify its portfolio so that Airbus accounts for 54 percent of the sales, with most of the rest being shared among Boeing, Embraer, Bombardier and CFM International.

Figeac Aero’s main strengths lie in its expertise in making metallic structures, treating surfaces and assembly work. There will be evidence of this expertise at the company’s Paris Air Show exhibit (Hall 2b Stand C107), which will feature a 12-meter (40-foot) section of wing, plus smaller titanium aerostructures and specialist components for engines, including the CFM International CFM56 turbofan.

The company has made substantial investments in its factories, including €73 million ($81.9 million) in 2016, and intends to inject a further €90 million ($100.9 million) this year in pursuit of fundamentally modernizing its production process.

Figeac Aero’s facility in Wichita, Kansas, has seen its size doubled to 6,000 square meters (65,000 square feet) since 2014 when it was acquired from Belgium’s Sonaca group. Currently, the site employs 160 people, but this is set to increase thanks to the new contract signed with Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems.

At the same time, the French company is significantly increasing the capacity of its factory at Hermosillo in Mexico, which is set to employ 500 people by 2020—up from around 100 today. This site does manufacturing, surface treatments and assembly work, most of which is in support of the 787 program.

Meanwhile, back at its home site at the town of Figeac in France, where the company employs 1,200 people, it has invested in robot technology to automate the process for making parts for CFM’s new Leap engines. This contract is worth around €490 million ($549.6 million) and is one of the company’s top priorities given that Leap production rates are set to rise to 2,000 units per year by 2020.

Last April, Maillard opened a new 6,200-square-meter (66,738-square-foot) building dedicated to manufacturing work for Airbus, Boeing and Dassault Aviation. The company’s ambition by 2020 is to boost annual revenues to between €650 million and €700 million ($729 million and $785 million) and to employ around 4,000 people—around half of them in France.