For Italy’s Finmeccanica group (Chalet G55), the Singapore Airshow marks the first major public appearance since it completed a major overhaul of its corporate structure. From January 1, Finmeccanica has been organized under four sectors: helicopters; aeronautics; electronics, defense and security systems; and space.
Beneath these sectors there are now the following seven divisions, which will handle business delivery with full responsibility for managing their own operations and finances: helicopters; aircraft; aerostructures; airborne and space systems; land and naval defense electronics; defense systems; and security and information systems.
In September 2015 the ownership structures of subsidiary companies Alenia Aermacchi, AgustaWestland and Selex were adjusted to take account of the new sectors anddivisions.
The restructuring follows the state-backed group’s divesture of non-core businesses in the areas of ground transportation and logistics. “The new organizational set up is not aimed at changing the business itself but changing the way it operates internally, making it more coherent, and efficient,” Giovanni Soccodato, executive vice president for strategy, markets and business development, told AIN. “It also makes it more possible for us to work across divisions,” he added.
Apart from more focus on core activities, the most immediate benefit should be cost savings and greater efficiencies, resulting, in part, from the fact that the business divisions will have streamlined management structures with more common functions and the scrapping of separate boards of directors.
As part of the streamlining process, Finmeccanica is in the process of combining the international operations of its various divisions, both to save costs and to boost the global reach of its businesses. The Rome-based group has office in Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea. In Malaysia, it has a joint venture working on air traffic management systems.
In essence, Finmeccanica is at last moving to the sort of unified, consolidated corporate structure already adopted by other major aerospace groups, such as Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “We will be one big industrial partner, which is in line with the trend for big, large players,” said Soccodato. “Customers will deal with a single organization with common rules and procedures, and a more coherent and integrated offering.”
Still to be fully resolved is the future of established brands under the new Finmeccanica monolith. Soccodato indicated that AgustaWestland’s helicopters may not be the only products permitted to keep trading on their history and reputation. There are currently around 350 of the company’s rotorcraft in the Asia Pacific region, with parapublic requirements boosting demand.
Here in Singapore, which he described as “one of our most demanding and advanced technology customers,” Finmeccanica has opted to showcase its Project Zero all-electric helicopter.
“This is a visionary project, the first fully-electric rotorcraft, and this will be the first time it has been seen outside Europe,” said Soccodato. “It uniquely combines the all-electric approach, an advanced tiltrotor concept and remotely controlled capability. It is the first aircraft of its type to demonstrate individual blade control, plus it has zero emissions and almost zero noise.”
The ambitious research and development program involves multiple Finmeccanica businesses and collaborative efforts with partners across Europe, North America and Asia. “In ten years, the energy density of rechargeable batteries will improve by one order of magnitude [and] then we will see large, fully-electric powered aircraft taking off and landing vertically. We want to be ready,” concluded Soccodato.
Training is another priority item for Finmeccanica at the show, as exemplified by the M-346 advanced jet trainer, for which Singapore was launch customer. Also offered by Finmeccanica’s new aircraft division are integrated training systems, which amount to complete off-the-shelf packages including aircraft, ground-based training systems and logistical support. A key factor is the use of live-virtual-constructive technology to link simulators to live aircraft.
Finmeccanica also is promoting its C-27J tactical support aircraft, which can be adapted for roles such as maritime patrol, VIP transport, fire-fighting and search and rescue.