Eurocopter is beefing up Shape, the reorganization plan it unveiled last October. Reacting to sluggish demand, the company has increased spending on research and development, closed one site, redefined executive responsibilities and planned job cuts.
Shape will boost R&D expenditure to E1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) through 2014, representing a further increase over this year’s E200 million ($260 million) or so. “The competition has caught up in recent years, while we were busy with the NH90 and Tiger military programs,” CFDT union representative Didier Hacquart told AIN.
Another E1 billion ($1.3 billion) is to be spent on “competitiveness,” including the modernization of production tools and hardware and the acquisition of other companies, as the manufacturer did in 2008 when it took over Motorflug, a service specialist in Germany.
In that country, design activity at the Ottobrunn site will be moved in 2012
to Donauwörth, which already houses production and flight-test facilities. There are 600 employees at Ottobrunn and 4,100 at Donauwörth, 75 statute miles away.
The La Courneuve rotor-blade factory, which employs 750 near Paris, will relocate to a clean-sheet site close to Le Bourget Airport, a move that Eurocopter expects will yield efficiency gains. La Courneuve’s current accommodation is regarded as old and cramped.
The manufacturer also plans to reshuffle the executive hierarchy to achieve “an optimized span of control for managers” and reduce “layers of management.” The goal is to “develop empowerment and speed decision processes.” According to Hacquart, too many decisions were being taken too far up the hierarchy.”
In addition, Eurocopter plans to eliminate 400 non-operational positions in France and Germany by next year, allowing the creation of 400 engineer and technician jobs in the coming years. The union has raised concerns about the planned cuts. The company employs 6,600 at its headquarters.