(Today’s image is of the MTM Robotics facility in Mukilteo, Washington – recently purchased by Airbus.)

ASTRONICS

Astronics Corporation announced that Robert S. Keane has joined its Board of Directors, effective December 9, 2019. Mr. Keane is Chairman and CEO of Cimpress (Nasdaq: CMPR), which provides mass customization services through its group of companies and is strategically focused on investing in and building entrepreneurial, customer-centric businesses.
Peter J. Gundermann, Chairman, President and CEO of Astronics, commented, “Robert brings an entrepreneurial spirit, significant public company experience and deep business acumen, which are valuable attributes for our evolving Board of Directors. We believe he will be a solid ambassador for shareholders. We welcome Robert’s contributions as we advance our strategy for profitable growth to build shareholder value.”

Mr. Keane founded Cimpress in 1995 and has grown the group to $2.75 billion in revenue with a market capitalization of $3.3 billion. Prior to Cimpress, he was employed for seven years by Astronics. He began his career in business management consulting. Mr. Keane is a graduate of Harvard College, where he earned his B.A. in economics, and INSEAD (France), where he earned his M.B.A. Mr. Keane is a son of the late Kevin Keane, former Chairman of Astronics.

The addition of Mr. Keane brings the Astronics Board to nine directors, eight of whom are independent.


SITA

SITA is installing its Scan&Fly ( Scan&Fly | SITA ) self-service bag drop for LATAM Airlines Group at 18 airports in five countries in the Americas as part of its work to transform its airport experience. The first eight kiosks are up and running at Brasilia International Airport and the remaining 97 units will be gradually implemented at other airports over the coming months. The technology means passengers will be able to check in their bags in under 40 seconds.

The majority of the 105 bag-drop units will be deployed in Brazil with the other units being installed in other airports in the region. LATAM is Latin America’s leading airline group, flying around 72 million passengers annually. As passenger numbers increase, airports are having to become more efficient and the smart use of technology is the only way to make that happen. Many airports are faced with capacity constraints, which in turn can lead to long queues. For airports that don’t have either the resources or the space to expand, SITA Scan&Fly can be installed onto existing check-in desks and conveyor belts offering up to 60% increase in terminal capacity, a 40% reduction in operational costs and an improved passenger experience.

SITA is the leading provider of airport technology in Latin America, covering all areas, including passenger processing, airport operations, baggage, border management and aircraft communications. The combination of all these technologies drives efficiencies for airports, airlines, government agencies, ground handlers, and, most importantly, passengers.


AIRBUS

The Air France–KLM Group has decided to place a firm order for 10 additional widebody A350-900s, which will take its total order for the type to 38 aircraft. By acquiring the industry’s most efficient and technologically advanced widebody aircraft, the airline will benefit from a significant reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions. The A350s are intended to be operated by Air France. Airbus has acquired industrial automation company, Air France-KLM currently operates a fleet of 159 Airbus aircraft. The A350 XWB features the latest aerodynamic design, a carbon fiber fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. Together, these features translate into unrivaled levels of operational efficiency with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions. The A350 XWB’s Airspace by Airbus cabin is the quietest of any twin-aisle and offers passengers and crews the most modern in-flight products for the most comfortable flying experience. By the end of November, the A350 XWB Family had received 959 firm orders from 51 customers worldwide, making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.

Airbus has acquired industrial automation company, MTM Robotics, for an undisclosed sum – (see today’s rectangle). The move deepens Airbus’ commitment to expanding advanced robotics capabilities within its manufacturing processes. The MTM business will retain its current leadership and 40-person staff, as well as its facility in Mukilteo, Washington, near Seattle. “We are pleased and excited to become a part of the Airbus family and look forward to further integrating our products and approaches into the Airbus industrialization chain,” said MTM founder, Mike Woogerd.

The acquisition is the latest chapter in a trusted, ten-year-plus relationship between the companies, with multiple MTM light automated robotics systems currently in use at Airbus manufacturing facilities. While MTM will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus Americas, Inc., headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, it will continue to serve other customers in the aerospace industry. Since 2003, MTM has deployed more than 40 aerospace manufacturing systems comprised of machines, tools, machine software, enterprise software and support throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The acquisition marks the latest step for Airbus in its industrialization roadmap, aimed at leveraging the time- and cost-saving benefits associated with using robotics in the manufacture and assembly of its commercial aircraft.
“The competitiveness of tomorrow will be determined by both designing the best aircraft and by building the most efficient manufacturing system, in parallel,“ said Michael Schoellhorn, Airbus Chief Operating Officer.“ Automation & robotics are central to our industrial strategy. We are very happy to welcome MTM Robotics as a family member and take a step forward on this exciting endeavor together.”

“MTM perfectly fits Airbus’ ambition for engineering and innovative manufacturing solutions while maintaining agility,” explained Patrick Vigié, Head of Industrial Technologies at Airbus. “Airbus and MTM Robotics each believe that tomorrow’s automation in aircraft manufacturing can and must be lighter, more portable and less capital intensive,” explained Vigié. “By joining our efforts and skills, we are well positioned to establish industry wide standards for the factory of tomorrow, “he said.


BOEING

JUST IN: Boeing announced on 12/16/19 that it is temporarily halting the assembly lines in Renton, Washington from January, with no timeline defined for a restart. Good news for the 12,000-strong Renton workforce: Boeing will preserve their jobs by keeping some on 737 work and redeploying the rest to other facilities in the region. (Editor’s Note: At this time, Boeing has not stated when the manufacturing line of the 737 MAX will restart. This may be dependent on FAA approval.)

Boeing Statement: Safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority. We know that the process of approving the 737 MAX’s return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust, to ensure that our regulators, customers, and the flying public have confidence in the 737 MAX updates. As we have previously said, the FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service. We remain fully committed to supporting this process. It is our duty to ensure that every requirement is fulfilled, and every question from our regulators answered. Throughout the grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has continued to build new airplanes and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage. We have previously stated that we would continually evaluate our production plans should the MAX grounding continue longer than we expected. As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning next month. We believe this decision is least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply chain health. This decision is driven by a number of factors, including the extension of certification into 2020, the uncertainty about the timing and conditions of return to service and global training approvals, and the importance of ensuring that we can prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft. We will continue to assess our progress towards return to service milestones and make determinations about resuming production and deliveries accordingly. During this time, it is our plan that affected employees will continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams in Puget Sound. As we have throughout the 737 MAX grounding, we will keep our customers, employees, and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess appropriate actions. This will include efforts to sustain the gains in production system and supply chain quality and health made over the last many months. We will provide financial information regarding the production suspension in connection with our 4Q19 earnings release in late January.

On Another Note: Boeing delivered 24 aircraft in November vs 79 in Nov 2018, and has now delivered 345 in 2019. Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg reports that the board of directors today declared a regular quarterly dividend of two dollars and five and one-half cents ($2.055) per share. The dividend is payable March 6, 2020, to shareholders of record as of February 14, 2020.

New Boeing Media Relations Director – (12) Michael Friedman | LinkedIn

 


OTHER NEWS

  • Whether you know it or not, times for technology development are changing and Ms. Sarayu Srinivasan is well aware of them. WIRED notes: “Sarayu Srinivasan is a venture capitalist, operating executive, and founder. Srinivasan is currently a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow detailed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where she is a senior adviser and private sector/venture capital expert working on the Cross-Agency Priority Goal Lab-to-Market.” Her opinion article in WIRED is one of the scary ones. Correct, but scary. She writes about industry and government co-working, and while she amplifies the US need for national and government teaming, her message is probably worldwide. She notes: “We can no longer wait for serendipitous ingenuity to flow downstream. There is no time for the fortuitous experiments of Darpa and Rand to organically develop into the commercial internet decades later.” I guess we never realized the extent of government funding of technology development because her message about Apple blew us away. See what you think – Industry Must Team up With Government to Keep America on Top | WIRED
  • No doubt, you know that runway numbering systems use the world magnetic field as a reference. They use numbers from 1 to 36 as compasses point the runway direction to the nearest 10 degrees. Guess what, the earth’s magnetic field is moving fast (2.5 degrees in the last 22 years). It gets worse – the poles reverse about every 500,000 years, and the present switch is some 280,000 years late! Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Is Hightailing It Toward Siberia The folks at Interesting Engineering just ruined my day!