3 questions for Jean-Christophe Dalla Toffola, Vice President International Partnerships, Aircelle.
What is the logic underlying the creation of the AMES (Aerostructure Middle East Services) joint-venture with Air France Industries?
Aircelle needs to develop its presence globally in the field of maintenance, the objective being to double the proportion accounted for by services in its revenues. The Middle East is a region where many operators who are customers of Aircelle products have a presence. The alliance with AFI allows us to profit from their acknowledged expertise in aircraft maintenance (including nacelles), which will complement Aircelle's own expertise on nacelles, while offering customers the technical know-how of an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Our ultimate objective is to set ourselves up on different continents in order to be able systematically to offer a local service, in particular in conjunction with key players in aerospace maintenance.
How precisely did the creation of the Nexcelle joint-venture with Middle River Aircraft System (MRAS), a subsidiary of GE, come about?
We drew heavily on the relations fostered over more than 35 years between our respective groups, in particular via the "engines" subsidiaries of GE and of Safran. It is an arrangement that works remarkably well and which enables the equitable distribution of workload with no psychological or commercial barriers! We have taken onboard the lessons learned from the contract in creating Nexcelle, but we wanted to keep a formulation that was as simple as possible, and above all based on this sense of mutual trust.
From a technical point of view, what can aircraft manufacturers hope to gain from this type of consolidation?
Nexcelle will be working in close conjunction with the engine manufacturers Snecma (Safran group) and General Electric. From the moment a project is launched, we will be able to reflect together on the perfect integration of engine and nacelle. Currently, engine and nacelle are two distinct assemblies that are assembled beneath the wing. If they are designed simultaneously, the one in relation to the other, it is possible to better conceive their dimensions and obtain weight savings. An engine casing may, for example, become a structural element. For an engine/nacelle assembly weighing approximately 3 tons, the weight gain could easily exceed 5%.