April 30, 2013
Credit: Volvo Aero
GKN says it hopes to have fully integrated Volvo Aero into the GKN structure by the end of 2013 following the takeover of the engine component company in July 2012.
“The integration was never a 90-100 day program,” said Mike McCann, CEO of GKN’s Aerospace Engine System division, speaking at the company’s pre-Paris Air Show briefing in London. McCann said it was now transitioning from the systems of its old owner Volvo AB and moving into the GKN organization.
“Customers have embraced the changes and accepted the change in ownership and that is showing in performance ratings,” he added. McCann said the engine business had been well invested and looked after by Volvo, and enjoyed a large customer base and that the main aim was to join the GKN’s existing engine business together with the Volvo Aero acquisition.
The purchase of Volvo Aero has been on GKN’s shopping list for some time according to Aerospace division CEO Marcus Bryson.
“This is the acquisition of a prime contractor….We bought it because of its engineering capability. We have inherited a highly skilled workforce of engineers who can design and build a whole jet engine,” Bryson said.
The acquisition puts GKN in the position as the third-biggest independent supplier of aero engine components, according to Bryson and the company will jump into second place behind MTU when the acquisition of Italy’s Avio is completed by GE later this year. GKN is now planning to grow the engine systems work by 15% over the next five years.
The company is already supplying on several engines it sees as “growth accelerators.” Programs such as Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan, CFM’s LEAP series and the F135 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will see combined production levels reach around 3,000 a year from 2020 onwards, giving GKN sustained production in the coming years. The company is also working to expand its relationship with Snecma on existing programs and its Silvercrest engine for business jets and regional airliners. Another key area of work for the company is technical responsibility for the RM12 engine fitted to the Saab Gripen jet fighter. The company supports the engines of aircraft from the five customer nations and is working with Sweden’s defense procurement agency on the Gripen E program, which will provide aircraft for both Sweden and Switzerland.
The work on engines is just part of the huge “super-cycle” of civil aerospace work expected by GKN in the coming years. With the ramp-up in production of narrow body and wide-body airliners in the coming years the company is shifting its workload from a previously military-heavy structure over to civil aerospace. Civil work now represents 61% of the aerospace division’s work, and this is expected to increase to 70% in the coming years as defense spending becomes flatter. Airbus is the lead customer for the Aerospace division and the third-largest client for the GKN group as a whole just behind the Volkswagen and Ford automotive companies.
The company is hopeful of expanding its already considerable work on Bombardier’s CSeries but would not comment on whether it would be taking workload from Chinese firm Shenyang, from whom Bombardier has pulled work. Phil Swash, CEO of GKN Aerospace’s Europe & Special Products division, said that more opportunities for work on CSeries may come up. “We have an extremely strong relationship with Bombardier; we have been working well together. The CSeries winglet was on-time, on-cost and below weight target and is performing well under test and I am looking to expand that working relationship, and if other opportunities come up to look at any major structures then we will look at that.”