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Daher plans to set up a new aircraft factory in the United States

Production capacities not aligned with demand.

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Daher plans to set up a new aircraft factory in the United States

Production capacities not aligned with demand. Like Airbus, Daher, an equipment and aircraft manufacturer, is facing a supply crisis. While the European giant has initiated rate increases in its assembly sites, the family-owned ETI (mid-sized company) has decided to strengthen its industrial system with a new factory. “Our assembly sites in Tarbes where we produce the TBM business jet and Sandpoint (Idaho) where the Kodiak aircraft is assembled are reaching the limits of their capacity. We are launching a feasibility study to open a third modular assembly line, capable of producing these two models, in Stuart, Florida,” announced Didier Kayat, general manager of Daher, this Wednesday. Objective ? Commission the new plant by 2026-2027.

The site, which will employ around a hundred people, will have an initial production capacity of 20 to 30 aircraft per year, which will allow the manufacturer to cross the symbolic milestone of a hundred aircraft produced per year. But also to strengthen itself in the United States. A logical choice for several reasons. Daher generates a third of its turnover (1.6 billion euros in 2023, or 300 million more than in 2022) in the United States, which has become the second country for all of its activities: aircraft, logistics, industrial services and supply of aeronautical equipment. It employs a thousand people there, after having bought Quest Aircraft, the manufacturer of the Kodiaks, in 2019, and an aerostructure parts production site based in Stuart, in July 2022. “The major equipment and systems of our aircraft come from of North America, particularly engines and avionics,” adds the CEO.

These new American investments are part of the 2023-2027 strategic plan, called “Take-off”, which aims to bring Daher into the club of the world’s top fifty aeronautical companies. This, by crossing the milestone of 2 billion in sales, distributed in a balanced manner between its four businesses, and by generating double-digit profitability (Ebitda). “We are ahead of our sales targets. In 2024, for the second year of Take-Off, we are targeting 1.9 billion in turnover, thanks to the 100% integration of AAA, the family-owned industrial services company acquired last summer, and thanks to the ramp-up of our activities", develops Didier Kayat. The latter admits, however, that the company's profitability: "has deteriorated in 2023 due to the persistence of disruptions (supply of raw materials still difficult, disorganized logistics, increase in the price of energy, etc.). But we’re not losing money.” Unable to produce more, Daher delivered fewer aircraft than expected in 2023, i.e. 74 aircraft (56 TBMs and 18 Kodiaks), which represents 21 fewer aircraft than initially planned.

On the commercial front, the group completed a historic year by signing around a hundred orders for TBM and Kodiak. “We have never experienced such a rich year in terms of activity, prospects for developing our production rates and new contracts,” insists Didier Kayat.

In this context, the company recruited 1,900 new employees, including 1,200 to replace those retiring. This poses a double challenge: integrating new entrants and training them, particularly in quality. “A generation is retiring, it takes time to train new employees and increase their skills,” explains the general manager. To this end, the ETI trained all its new recruits in its own dedicated centers, in Tarbes, Toulouse and Morocco. “We carried out 11,000 hours of training in 2023 and trained 400 employees in professions in shortage in 2023. This year, we plan to recruit 1,200 people and carry out 24,000 hours of training,” explains Didier Kayat.

At the same time, the ETI decided to set up a new organization, based on the model of the aeronautical giants, in order to gain efficiency, simplify its structures and install a new generation of managers. Baptized D

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