Airbus and Boeing's French component supplier Latécoère (Hall 4, Stand 41454) will showcase a new product for wiring in severe environments at Farnborough 2018. The high-resistance cables are mainly used in conjunction with an aircraft's engine and landing gear. That's where enhanced insulation is often needed instead of composite materials such as kevlar. "What we will show is a new technology, not based on composite materials as usual, but based on new material fitted for severe environments, lighter and cheaper," explained Yannick Assouad, CEO of Latécoère. Latécoère will also showcase its Next Generation Equipped Door (NexGed) at Farnborough. This passenger door is electrically powered and was released at the Paris Airshow last year.
The Toulouse-based supplier, more known for its aerostructure activity, is also a specialist in wiring and harnesses for aircraft through its Latécoère Interconnexion Systemes (LIS) business unit. This activity accounted for 39 percent of the company's €652 million ($754 million) in revenues last year. Airframe work accounted for the rest of the revenues. "Now we are present in all the wiring systems," said Assouad. So, LIS designs and produces wiring, racks, and interconnection systems for all parts of an aircraft: the cabin (since 2017), flight deck, and so on. The French supplier works for OEMs such as Airbus (its first customer), Dassault, Bombardier (Global 7000), ATR, and Mitsubishi Regional Aircraft (MRJ).
Latécoère, which employs more than 4,450 people, is in a transition phase called "Plan de Transformation 2020." Since 2012, its revenues have been relatively flat, but last year, the supplier won some new contracts, such as the door of the Global 7000, and the cabin surveillance cameras of the Boeing 777.
To increase its competitiveness, the group made three major industrial investments. One amounted €35 million ($40 million) in a new factory at Montredon, near Toulouse. This 6,000-sq-m (645,845-sq-ft) facility inaugurated May 22 is dedicated to producing aluminum parts for fuselages and doors with an almost fully automated process. The factory employs 100 people. The company plans to implement a surface treatment process at Montreredon by 2020, a move that will add 50 employees. It will need a €10-million ($11.6-million) investment.
The second investment (€15 million/US$17.4 million) regards Bulgaria, where Latécoère opened a new factory last March in Plovdiv. This 5,000-sq-m “low-cost” facility, employing 200 people, is manufacturing small assemblies for passenger doors, a process that cannot be automated. The new facility is mainly dedicated to Airbus. It will assist the Latécoère Czech Republic factory located near Prague, which produces aerostructures for Airbus and Boeing. “We have to ensure [success of] the A320neo ramp-up, and our Plovdiv factory is part of this goal,” said Assouad. Regarding Boeing's 787 Dreamliner passenger doors, Latécoère manufactures the primary parts in Prague and then ships them to its Mexican factory of Hermosillo, where all of the 787 doors are assembled. Latécoère also invests in India, in a new electrical wiring facility located in Belagavi (Karnataka state), which will be operational in the third quarter. This 4,000-sq-m factory will assemble electrical harnesses for Dassault Aviation and Thales, representing an annual turnover of €25 million ($29 million).