There are many indications that the aviation sector is warming up and heading towards recovery, now that many countries around the world are easing or removing Covid-related travel restrictions. Indeed, international aerospace group FACC is harnessing what it sees as “positive developments in the global aircraft market for systematic growth.” In particular, explains the company, “demand is on the rise and a significant increase in sales is looming by 2022”.
The group doesn’t just speak with confidence – it invests in that confidence, adding more than 200 new employees to the workforce at its Upper Austria facilities, with a focus on new production, IT, digitization, innovation management and automation. The FACC is also launching an investment initiative totaling €150 million ($170 million) over the next five years (see below).
The FACC said in a statement: “The aviation industry is currently experiencing a recovery – airlines are beginning to expand their fleets again, and the positive industry trend is significantly stronger in some areas than recently anticipated. FACC is consistently benefiting from these opportunities: the aerospace company, which counts major aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, Bombardier, Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney among its customers, expects significant sales growth in 2022, and is pursuing a constant strategy to expansion for years to come.
Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC AG, is certainly optimistic about the market. He said: “Just last year , we were able to obtain new contracts worth more than 1 billion euros. We are also focusing on a long-term growth strategy for the future and are now launching a jobs and investment initiative.
150 million euros over the next five years
In total, 150 million euros are to be invested in the following three areas:
1: New projects
Airbus commissioned FACC for the production of the A220 tailplane components, thus sustainably strengthening their close collaboration, which now spans decades. FACC is the sole supplier of the A220 rudder and elevator.
FACC has developed a state-of-the-art business jet cabin for Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier. The realization of the interior of the cabin of the Bombardier Challenger 3500 constitutes a major project for the years to come.
In 2021, FACC won a contract for the European space program Ariane 6. A potential early application of lightweight innovation is the HERA project for planetary asteroid defense technology. The objective is to test to what extent an asteroid can be deflected from its trajectory by means of two comets passing by the Earth.
2: Strong expansion of R&D
FACC works intensively and therefore invests in new materials and production technologies. Here, two major goals go hand in hand: constant sustainability and constantly increasing competitive strength.
For example, the FACC studies new lightweight materials such as composites and their processing methods. Composites are strong and durable, have a long life cycle and save fuel and therefore CO2 in flight operations due to their low weight. The company also implements systematic approaches to innovate and improve the manufacturing processes for these materials, in particular by focusing on reducing the hardening time of the parts. This saves energy while reducing CO2 emissions.
The recyclability of components will be an additional research and development focus in the years to come. Thus, the components of chemical products must be replaced by biological substances, for example from the sugar cane industry.
As part of its investment initiative, FACC will also intensify and expand its collaborative research with leading companies in the aviation industry, for example the Airbus Wing of Tomorrow program.
In terms of production, FACC will continue to advance the industrial production of lightweight construction systems for aircraft, through the development of complementary high-performance automation technologies. The goal is to reduce processing times, reduce manufacturing costs and consume less energy.
3. Extension of production facilities
Over the past year, FACC AG has concluded contracts worth more than one billion euros with its customers. To equip itself for the future, the aerospace group will expand its production facilities with next-generation technology and build new, highly automated factories.
Overall, FACC expects these employment and investment initiatives to generate sustained growth in the years to come. By 2030, FACC aims to become one of the world’s top 50 aeronautical groups; he is currently in the top 100.