Aerospace and transportation systems

In 2015 the aerospace and transportation systems division increased its turnover by 51 million € or 4.4 % to 1,220 million €; sales revenue from both business areas was higher, with slightly more growth from transportation systems than from aerospace.

Demand for international passenger air travel rose in 2015 to the highest level in the past five years. Only very moderate progress, however, was recorded in the air freight area. The global rail industry enjoyed modest growth. Features of this market were over-capacity and strong consolidation tendencies.

In addition to other important items of equipment for the Boeing 777X, Liebherr received an order to develop and supply components of the fold subsystem for the new Boeing wide-bodied aircraft. This system folds up the wingtips after the aircraft has landed, and in this way reduces the wingspan of the B777X by 7m – 3.5m on each side.

A milestone reached during the business year was the maiden flight of the CS300 regional jet airliner. Liebherr supplies the landing gear and integrated air management systems for this aircraft, which is the largest in the Bombardier CSeries. The COMAC C919 had its first public rollout; it uses Liebherr landing gear and an integrated Liebherr air management system. Another notable rollout concerned the Embraer 190-E2, the first aircraft in that company’s new E-Jet E2 family. Liebherr developed and supplies the highlift divide and air management systems for these regional aircraft from Brazil.

A further milestone was passed when the Airbus A350 entered service with several airlines. For this most recent member of the Airbus family, Liebherr has developed various important components, including the nose landing gear and the front slat actuation mechanism. As in all other programmes, the company provides comprehensive OEM after-sales service based in its worldwide network, comprising repair and maintenance services, technical support, documentation and spare parts.

The division supplies air management systems for the AC312 series of helicopters built by the Chinese manufacturer Hafei-Harbin.

In the transportation systems area, Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) placed an order with Liebherr in 2014 for a multiple unit from the first build of its ICE 3 fleet to be equipped with an air cycle air conditioning system. This system’s trial phase was completed in 2015. In this regard, the division undertook a public transport vehicle air conditioning project on behalf of the Federal German Ministry for the Environment with the aim of analysing the extent to which such systems are competitive compared with those of conventional design. In addition, a demonstration air cycle air conditioning system is being tested in an SNCF (French Rail) regional train.

Bombardier Transportation commissioned Liebherr to supply nine cooling systems for the lithium-ion batteries intended for use in the Primove® electric bus. Further, Liebherr received two orders from China for tram anti-buckling systems.

In the service area, Liebherr also obtained numerous orders from rail vehicle manufacturers, including one for the development and supply of equipment for the British Thameslink passenger-vehicle rail fleet. For a Czech operator, Liebherr is to overhaul numerous split air conditioning units in mainline passenger-train vehicles. The local passenger transport operator in Montpellier, France, has commissioned Liebherr to supply spare parts and also complete new control systems in connection with the planned overhaul of its vehicle fleet’s air conditioning systems.

Liebherr’s extensions to the Lindenberg, Germany, location continued according to schedule. There were investments in machines and plants in Toulouse (France), Korneuburg (Austria), Saline (MI / USA) and Guaratinguetá (Brazil).

A significant achievement last year was the establishment of a 50:50 joint venture by Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg GmbH and Rolls-Royce with the aim of developing competence and capacity for the production of power gear drive trains for the Rolls-Royce UltraFan™ engine. This is a new product area for Liebherr’s aerospace business.

The division expects to increase its turnover in the current year. Liebherr will continue to benefit from the prevailing high demand for aircraft that can be operated as economically as possible. The positive trend worldwide in the rail travel business sector is also expected to continue.