Paris 2011: GKN Aerospace Racks Up Business in Paris

Paris Air Show » 2011
June 19, 2011, 9:00 PM

Dassault Aviation has awarded GKN Aerospace a life-of-program contract to design and build the wing movable surfaces for its next-generation, super mid-sized (SMS) business jet. It is one of the first major system supplier selections to be announced for the long-anticipated program. The work likely will be done at GKN’s Filton operation in the UK, which to date has focused mainly on wing production for Airbus.

“This contract opens an important and promising new relationship between our company and Dassault Aviation, one of the premier aircraft design and manufacturing businesses in the world today,” said Phil Swash, GKN’s president and CEO for the Aerostructures-Europe division. “It is a clear indication of the global competitiveness and depth of expertise of the GKN Aerospace team and, specifically, of our growing Filton-based wing-structures activity.”

GKN (Hall 2B EF166) will take responsibility for the complete design, component manufacture and assembly of wing movable surfaces for the SMS, expected to enter service in 2016. The company aims to bring significant performance, weight and cost benefits to the wing of Dassault’s newjet and already has engineering teams working on the program, colocated in facilities in France and Bristol, UK. 

Separately, the UK based group has gained a multi-year follow-on order, valued at approximately $450 million, from Lockheed Martin for engine nacelles for the C-130J military airlifter. The new five-year contract extension takes continuous manufacture at GKN Aerospace through to 2018–and well into its third decade.

GKN plans to supply 37 full aircraft nacelle sets this year, almost doubling previous annual production rates. In total, the company expects to supply 158 nacelles, including spares, during the remainder of this year and to deliver 2000 nacelles by 2018. It expects skilled employment on its C-130J production line to triple by the end of 2011 and to include a growing number of apprentices.

Finally, GKN Aerospace has signed an agreement this week with Recycled Carbon Fibre (RCF) to recycle the uncured carbon waste from its aerostructures manufacturing operation in Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. Recycling will take place at RCF’s carbon-recycling facility near Birmingham in the UK.

GKN estimates that the Cowes site will recycle some 100 metric tons of carbon waste in the next 12 months, as part of the so-called cost-neutral agreement. Plans call for the recycled material to appear in a variety of products, including paints and coatings, thermoplastic polymers, composite tooling and deep-sea buoyancy products. In the coming five years, as GKN Aerospace sees existing orders reach full production levels, the company expects a 30-percent rise in the quantity of waste for recycling from the Cowes site alone. 

“Our composite research facility has been working with RCF for some time and our aim now is to commence a program that will ultimately establish recycling as an integral part of our full production manufacturing process in the UK, and globally,” said Rich Oldfield, GKN Aerospace director of technology.

“To balance the performance and environmental gains achieved through using composites in aircraft operations, it is vital the industry progresses toward greener manufacture on a number of fronts and we believe an effective recycling process is at the heart of that progression,” Oldfield said.

For more on GKN’s perspective on the market and its investments in new technology see page 38.

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