Five questions to… Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation

LARA editor Mark Thomas interviewed Nicolas Bonleux, managing director and chief sales officer. This article originally featured in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of LARA magazine. To access the full digital edition, please click here.

What systems and services does Liebherr-Aerospace supply that are of most relevance to regional airlines and low-fare carriers for single-aisle and regional aircraft? And how and where is it expanding its worldwide coverage in relation to demand for its services going forward?

We supply integrated air management systems, integrated flight control and actuation systems and landing gear systems, as well as electronics such as customer services (life cycle support) that entail maintenance, repair and overhaul as well as training.

We are expanding by organic and continuous growth, always near to our customers. The Asia-Pacific region is certainly an area that captures a large part of our attention in this regard. While our worldwide network is well established, we are permanently reviewing our worldwide footprint to make sure we adapt it to the development of the market.

Liebherr-Aerospace has a new facility in Canada that it recently opened. What is the facility for, and what opportunities does it open up for the company in the region?

Our 1,400-square metre (15,000 ft2) facility in Laval, Quebec will contribute to reinforcing our relationship with Bombardier for all their future aircraft programmes. The site accommodates the final assembly and testing of the landing gear for the Bombardier C Series aircraft, enabling us to manage just-in-time deliveries directly to the aircraft assembly line in Mirabel, approximately 35 km away. In addition, it increases our footprint in the greater
Montreal area, which is a major worldwide aerospace centre of excellence.

The company has invested €6.5 million in extending its facility at Campsas near Toulouse, France for air management systems. Tell us more about the site, and what the extension has enabled the company to install in terms of state-of-the-art machinery – 3D printing, for example – and how this has benefited its production capacity.

This investment (extending the site by 3,300 square metres and installing production equipment) enabled us to fully deploy the ‘industry 4.0’ concept across our centre of excellence for air
management systems with initiatives such as paperless fabrication, the internet of things, new man/machine interfaces, and new modes of organisation.

This went together with the installation of 3D printing machines, the latest generation 5-axis machining centres, and robotised manufacturing lines. This investment (totalling €3 million on the new production equipment) will enable us to accommodate the ramp-ups of our aircraft manufacturer customers, while further enhancing our quality performance and industrialising highly promising new technologies – among them those that can contribute to the aviation sector reducing its CO2 footprint.

The investment will enable the company to increase its production hours by 10% in 2017.

Liebherr-Aerospace recently sealed an agreement to carry out overhaul activities at its Lindenberg facility for Flybe’s main and nose landing gear systems on its E-Jet family of regional aircraft – systems developed and manufactured by Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg. How important are agreements like this going to be for the company going forward in today’s very competitive market?

Agreements like this are very important for us and also for our customers, as we as an OEM know our products and technology best. In addition, customer service is a priority area of development of our revenues, and we are proud that operators such as Flybe award us with their trust.

What technologies or innovations does Liebherr-Aerospace see as being of most significance in the next few years? What is the company developing itself that could be of most relevance?

There are several fields of technology innovation that will be of high relevance for the next generation of aircraft that we are dedicating significant investment to.

They are mostly related to the way our air management, flight control and landing gear systems can better enable more electrical aircraft types, higher efficiency electronics and materials, as well as the health management of our on-board systems and to enhanced passenger and crew comfort.

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