Britain's GKN is focused on winning more work in the single-aisle aircraft market and is close to signing a major deal to supply Chinese plane maker COMAC's C919 jet, its aero chief said on Thursday.
GKN's recent USD$985 million purchase of Volvo's aerospace division, a specialist in lightweight airframe and engine components, will help it win more work on the next generation of short-haul jets such as Airbus's A320neo and Boeing's 737 MAX, Marcus Bryson, chief executive of GKN's aerospace unit said.
"One of our problems has always been our lack of exposure on the narrow-body planes... but the big growth is in that narrow-body market, so our thrust is to try and get more content on those aircraft," said Bryson.
"We think there's a good chance we can get more content on the A320neo and the 737 MAX."
GKN, which makes airframes for Airbus and Boeing, does significant work on larger jets such as Boeing's 787 and Airbus A380 but has no content on the 737 MAX.
Bryson said GKN was also close to winning a significant contract on China's first homegrown single-aisle passenger jet. COMAC has, so far, received around 280 orders for the C919.
"I'm hoping to have a formal agreement signed with COMAC by the end of the year for a major piece of composite structure on the C919," said Bryson.
Volvo Aero will take some 18 months to integrate into GKN's aero unit, but will put it in a stronger position both in structures and on engines, he added.
The airshow has been relatively subdued, marked by a lack of firm orders, with the majority of those placed being commitments to buy planes at a later date. Bryson puts this down to a flurry of large orders in recent years and an uncertain economic backdrop.
"It has seemed low key - there's concern about world macro-economic conditions, especially with regards to Europe. Also, big orders go in waves and we had a huge wave last year with the advent of the neo and the MAX, which has settled down a bit now," he said.