FACC is soaring to success
FACC AG specialises in the development, design and manufacture of advanced fibre composite components and systems for the aviation industry.
Its extensive product range includes aircraft fairings, fuselages, wings, aircraft cabin interiors for passenger planes, engines and engine nacelle components. From conception and design to serial production, FACC provides leading technology to the international aerospace market, and its strong composite materials offer improved fuel efficiency and environmental performance. Alongside exterior structural components, the company produces a broad assortment of aircraft interiors including cockpit fairings, complete passenger interiors, lavatories, cargo compartment linings and noise reduction equipment. FACC’s industrial design line, 21st Century Line, specialises in producing interior sections for narrow bodied, single aisle commercial aircraft.
Composite materials provide innovative solutions to aircraft manufacturers seeking greater capacities, longer cruising ranges, higher economic-efficiency and reduced environmental pollution. Over the next two decades, the aviation industry will expand by an average of five per cent annually and the composite application in aircraft construction will experience progressive growth. FACC strives to develop innovative, highperformance components and systems for commercial aircraft, and has worked as a partner to many of the world’s leading airframe and engine manufacturers, as well as their first line of subcontractors, including BAE Systems, Aircelle and Eurocopter.
Based in Austria, the company headquarters is situated in Ried im Innkreis where engineering, central administration and part of the structural components production takes place. Manufacturing is spread throughout four facilities in Ried and Reichersberg, and focuses on the application of innovative production processes. Investment in the latest technologies and processes has allowed FACC to become a highly modern manufacturer of advanced system components in composite technology.
The company was formed 17 years ago as a subsidiary of Austrian sporting goods manufacturer Fischer Ski-Tennis GmbH, but established itself successfully as a renowned high-tech supplier to the global aviation industry. Today, it is among the top 30 component producers for the aircraft sector in the world and serves all major aircraft manufacturers including Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier, as well as Tier 1 suppliers and aircraft engine manufacturers. FACC has been successfully involved in prominent aircraft development programmes worldwide such as the Airbus A380, A350 and XWB, and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. “FACC is the largest design and manufacturing house for composite airspace products in Austria,” explains CEO Walter Stephan. “We started in 1989 and grew streadily from then on – our turnover last year was 223 million euros. We mostly concentrate on composite components for the aerospace industry and all of our products go onto large commercial airplanes.”
FACC has succeeded in a short period of time in attracting the attention, and gaining the trust, of leading aircraft manufacturers across the globe, establishing itself as a dependable partner. “We are active in two product areas – aircraft structures and aircraft interiors,” says Walter. “Aircraft structures comprise 80 per cent of our business and we are manufacturing components as well as engines for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which will be taking off around the end of August. In addition to that, we are undertaking control services on wings and components of wings. We produce all winglets for the 737 new generation of aircraft and the Boeing business jet, and those winglets are saving roughly five per cent of the fuel consumption. We also provide wing spoilers on the E330, A340 and 787. Our second activity, which is 20 per cent of our business, is producing complete aircraft interiors for airplanes, such as the A320, and our interiors are fully customised to fit the specific needs of the airline.”
FACC first became a supplier to Airbus when it worked on the A320 programme over 15 years ago and consequently FACC has had a definitive impact on the redesign of cabins, overhead stowage compartments, ceiling panels and cover light panels, which have all been constructed with weight-saving composite materials. Applying its innovation to the cabin technology of the A320 resulted in the design of interior components being based upon increasing efficiency in cabin assembly. Newly developed, flexible-fastening elements created a simpler and faster installation in the assembly line, and reduced the time it took the airline to undertake maintenance and remodelling.
In 2003, FACC was chosen by Boeing to develop and produce the Boeing 787 series and co-operates with other partners on the technology development and verification programmes for the new civil aircraft. By the end of the programme, around 60 million euros will have been invested in R&D specifically related to 787 components. Up to 150 FACC engineers are currently working on the hightech components for the 787 and that figure will rise to 250 when production gets further underway. FACC also received five large orders from four different customers for the development and production of composite components for the engines, nacelles, wings and the fuselage of the Boeing 787, which led to the construction of a fourth manufacturing facility in April 2007 to produce the nacelle components for the 787 and the Airbus planes.
On the new manufacturing developments, Walter says: “For the Boeing 787 we are essentially building the translating sleeve. Our contract is with Goodrich Aerostructures and components are very technical, sophisticated and lightweight. They are designed to have a reduced sound level due to better sound absorption characteristics. Plant number four, which is roughly a 250,000 sq ft facility, has the latest state-of-the-art technology for the manufacturing of those components. Here, the 787 components are manufactured with less reliance on manual labour and more on the automisation of the layout of the carbon fibre skins of components. We also have a big opportunity coming up in China as we have the responsibility for the design and manufacture of the interior of the AH21, which is a 70–100 seat business jet having its first flight next year around the time of the Olympic games in Beijing.”
In addition, FACC has recently been examining ways in which it can implement automisation in its manufacturing facilities to improve productivity, efficiency and output. “Manufacturing efficiency is incredibly important, which is why we invest a great deal in lean technologies. We are looking very seriously into utilising automisation rather than physical labour in order to improve efficiency, and we also have programmes in place to reduce inventories. In this way, we are able to compete with countries that have significantly lower labour costs than Austria. With automisation and the continuing application of lean manufacturing processes, we can keep our company competitive in this industry.”
Fischer Advanced Composite Components
Products: Composite components for the aviation industry
Sites: Four in Austria