China: a country boasting growth opportunities for Messier-Bugatti-Dowty

Acclaimed for its equipment and services by a growing number of Chinese airlines, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (Safran) aims to bolster its footing in China.

Messier-Bugatti-Dowty reeled in a double whammy in China. Last summer, within the space of just one week, China Eastern Airlines and Zhejiang Loong Airlines selected Messier-Bugatti-Dowty to supply wheels and brakes, as well as maintenance services, for their Airbus aircraft. These contracts bolstered Messier-Bugatti-Dowty's footing on these two market segments in China. "We're looking to maintain this high degree of trust in our products," states Jean Souêtre, Wheels and Brakes Sales VP, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty. "The fact that our very first customer for the forthcoming A320neo is Chinese is a very positive sign." Zhejiang Loong Airlines did in fact select Messier-Bugatti-Dowty to supply the carbon brakes and wheels for its forthcoming fleet of seven A320neo aircraft and 34 latest-generation A320 aircraft.

Airbus A330 de China Eastern Airlines

Airbus A330 de China Eastern Airlines

Local-level challenges 

"Covering the supply of wheels and brakes for 165 Airbus A320 aircraft and the maintenance of landing gear for their A330 aircraft, the contracts with China Eastern Airlines are of great importance to us," says the VP for Sales. "Indeed, this airline is currently one of the three main air transport players in China. It is also one of our long-standing partners. This new agreement is a real sign of trust.
The standard exchange and revision operations for the Airbus A330 aircraft's landing gear are set to take place between 2015 and 2018 in Messier-Bugatti-Dowty's repair workshop in Singapore*. "Such agreements are becoming scarce. Generally speaking, Chinese airlines prefer to carry out their own maintenance operations on the domestic market in China," explains Bruno Chiarelli, MRO Division VP, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty. "To continue to grow in this market, it is becoming vital for us to consolidate our existing sites and significantly develop our support and maintenance network in China.

Adapting to the competition 

The main feature of the contract with China Eastern Airlines covering the wheels and brakes for its A320 aircraft is that it is the first time that a Chinese airline has opted for the "payment upon landing" package. This package sees Messier-Bugatti-Dowty supply new replacement wheels and brakes free of charge. In return, the airline pays a fixed amount for every landing made. "This kind of contract is of major interest for us, insofar as our customers no longer have any reason to purchase spare parts from local manufacturers, since we make them available to them," explains Jean Souêtre. "Indeed, China is the only country that authorizes the use of locally-produced parts. Getting past this competitive aspect is of great importance to us.

Maintenance d’un train d’atterrissage à Singapour

Maintenance d'un train d'atterrissage à Singapour © Messier Bugatti Dowty

A strategic country 

With passenger traffic expected to increase 11% every year over the coming decade and a volume of transported goods that already represents a third of global freight, China has become a key country for aerospace players. Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, which already generates between 5 and 10% of its revenue in China, is looking to step up its development there. "We are also targeting the market for retrofitting the steel brakes on Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft with our carbon brakes. The outlook is promising as it is the second biggest market after the United States," says Jean Souêtre. 
Over the long term, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty hopes to supply products and services for the forthcoming COMAC C929, the Chinese equivalent of the Airbus A330 aircraft and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. 

* Located in Singapore, the Messier Services Asia maintenance facility is a joint venture between Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (60%) and Singapore Airlines Engineering Company (40%).