As other industries are doing, aerospace is looking to emerging markets for low-cost assembly work.
Bombardier Aerospace advanced the trend recently when it announced that workers at its plant in Querétaro, Mexico, would manufacture the composite structure for the Learjet 85 business jet. Workers there also will manufacture the electrical harnesses and perform subassembly systems installation.
Final assembly for the four-passenger aircraft (due for entry into service in 2012/13) will take place at a Bombardier plant at the Lear brand’s home base in Wichita, where workers will also do interior completions.
“Mexico is key to the development of a highly competitive aerospace industry in Central and South America, as well as to Bombardier’s increased competitiveness in the international marketplace,” said Jean Séguin, Vice President, Engineering and Supply Chain, Bombardier Aerospace. “In keeping with our tradition of innovation, the composite manufacturing capacity we are adding to our plant in Mexico is an excellent complement to the approximately 40 years of experience in advanced composites technologies developed at our Bombardier facilities.”
About 900 employees work at Bombardier’s Querétaro facilities, where structural and electrical harness work already is performed for the Challenger 850 mid fuselage section, the Q400 flight control work package (i.e., rudder, elevator, and horizontal stabilizer), and the Global family aft fuselage section. Employment is expected to grow to 1200 full-time employees by the end of FY2008/09.
Bombardier’s plant in the Querétaro Aerospace Park, north of Mexico City, opened in 2007. It is the company’s first in a low-cost market. Its other facilities are in Canada, Northern Ireland, and the U.S.
“Bombardier Aerospace and Mexico have a solid relationship based on a long-term commitment to develop the aerospace industry within Mexico, and we are particularly proud to be the first manufacturer at Querétaro’s new aerospace park,” said Pierre Beaudoin, President and Chief Operating Officer, Bombardier Aerospace. “In parallel to the establishment of this world-class facility, we also plan to develop a local supplier base to further support our Mexican operations and other facilities, and we look forward to other companies joining us in Querétaro. In this highly competitive industry, which is becoming increasingly global in its scope, we view Mexico as the springboard to the further development of the aerospace industry in Central and South America, and to our increased competitiveness in the international marketplace.
“We applaud the strong commitment shown by both the Federal and State of Querétaro governments to participate and support the three pillars upon which our industry stands: infrastructure, certification, and training. I have every confidence that, together, we will build a strong and vital future for the Mexican aerospace industry and for Bombardier.”
In January, Bombardier announced that Grob Aerospace would develop—and, during the initial production cycle, produce—the Learjet 85 composite structure. Production will be transferred from Grob facilities to Bombardier’s Querétaro facility during this time.
Bombardier Business Aircraft President Pierre Côté said the firm chose Grob for development and initial production because it is “one of the world’s most experienced companies in the development and manufacture of composite aircraft structures.”
Use of composites over metal provides several benefits, says Bombardier, including:
• A smooth exterior finish for good aerodynamics and performance
• Good strength-to-weight ratio
• Reduced maintenance and extended service life
• Reduced structural part count
• Less vulnerability to corrosion and fatigue damage.
The Learjet 85 will be the first Bombardier jet with an all-composite structure and will be the first all-composite-structure business jet designed for type certification under U.S. FAA FAR Part 25, according to the company.