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Interview with Nicolas Bonleux General Manager Liebherr-Aerospace by AeroMorning

Interview de Nicolas Bonleux Bonleux Directeur Général Liebherr- Aerospace par AeroMorning

August 28, 2019

AeroMorning: Hi Nicolas Bonleux, We are happy to welcome you.
Nicolas Bonleux: Hello

Over a six months period, Liebherr-Aerospace has been awarded the following four trophies:
– Airbus ‘best supplier award in all categories’
– The “Trophy of Excellence” awarded by Boeing,
– The “best of best” trophy awarded by Embraer,
– The “best approach to customer-supplier relationship” trophy by COMAC

What do you think is Liebherr-Aerospace’s recipe to get this result compared to your competitors?

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux:

These four trophies in six months highlight the relevance of the strategy designed and implemented by Liebherr-Aerospace for several years;  they are based on the commitment of our employees, substantial investments in differentiation technologies and next-generation industrial tools. It also illustrates the relationship between Liebherr-Aerospace’s operational teams and the teams of its customers, which is an essential basis for the success of industrial cooperation.

Quality has a price.

How does Liebherr-Aerospace reconcile quality and cost control to stay competitive?

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux:

Quality is priceless! Be it for our aircraft manufacturer customers, for our joint operator customers or for Liebherr-Aerospace, non-quality has a very important cost, in terms of financial impact as well as in terms of operational safety, management attention and resource consumption, and of course in terms of reputation.

Quality is in fact an essential condition of product competitiveness, as well as an aspect of cost control. For several years, Liebherr-Aerospace has been implementing a high-performance quality control system called QRQC (Quick Response Quality Control), which has produced spectacular results. We are deploying this system also in our supply chain. Our substantial investments in the “factory of the future” and next-generation technologies are intended, among other things, to increase the competitiveness as well as the quality of our operations.


For a long time, many companies considered that it was necessary to concentrate on a specific trade by subcontracting the other activities. This movement has now reached its limits and today we see companies like Airbus want to take over all or part (drawing or manufacturing) of highly profitable activities such as landing gear or engine nacelles rather than leaving them to subcontractors. Boeing is doing the same with avionics equipment that it now designs instead of outsourcing it. So we find ourselves with a trend of vertical integration among aircraft manufacturers, at least in the Western Region.

Does this heavy trend of major aircraft manufacturers have an impact on Liebherr-Aerospace?

How does Liebherr-Aerospace intend to take it into account?

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux:
Liebherr-Aerospace is well prepared to adapt to these new trends that it has already envisaged. Thanks to the long-term vision of our family shareholders, which favors the development of the company, Liebherr-Aerospace has continuously made investments that allow us to meet the future needs of our aircraft manufacturer customers, in terms of technology and of workshare between them and us.

We offer them a very wide range of ways of collaboration, on which they can build their product strategy: they thus entrust us, according to the types of systems and the programs concerned, with either highly integrated systems, or stand-alone equipment, for which they can in some cases take care of the design themselves.
This correspondence between their verticalization strategy and our own product approach has thus provided us with additional business opportunities that we have recently materialized, such as stand-alone electronics for Boeing   or nacelle equipment for Airbus..

How does Liebherr-Aerospace plan to tackle digital “end to end” in the design and production of its products?

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux:

We have undertaken a transversal digitization approach, which covers all our activities, with a focus on digital continuity. Many aspects of this approach are being rolled out. This digitization initiative is an integral part of our strategy and we are in the process of implementing the corresponding structures and processes.
The “end-to-end”, or digital continuity, is a very strong element of our overall strategic vision: it allows substantial efficiency gains and optimizations at all stages of the product life cycle, be it between the various functions of Liebherr-Aerospace or between Liebherr-Aerospace and its customers, i.e. aircraft manufacturers and operators.

All companies are now rushing to services, predictive maintenance. How does Liebherr-Aerospace approach with aircraft manufacturers this new trend?

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux:

Customer Services have long been a large part of our business. Optimizing operators’ operating costs has always been a priority for us. Predictive maintenance offers a very significant potential to reduce the total cost of ownership of the product thanks to “big data”. With this possibility of collecting and correlating an unprecedented quantity of data, we can draw impressively effective operational recommendations. We are investing significantly in R & D efforts, and building the necessary skills and teams, to make this significant potential available to our customers. The results of the first experiments we conducted with Airbus on their “Skywise” predictive platform – we are one of the first users and providers thanks to the “early adopters” initiative – are quite conclusive.

With the new technologies, the electrification, the planned flights with a single pilot or even without a pilot, a greener world, what are the axes that Liebherr- Aerospace develops to define its future?

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux:

Every year, we invest more than 15% of our turnover in R & D, a figure well above the industry average. Our efforts focus in particular on reducing the carbon footprint of air transport, including the electrification of propulsion and embedded systems. The new technologies being developed at Liebherr-Aerospace that will come into service in the next two decades and that will enable dramatic progress in reducing the carbon footprint of aircraft are for example: electric power generation by fuel cell, high power and high voltage electric motors, high power and high voltage power electronics, local hydraulic power generation, on-board power management, thermal management, highly integrated electric actuation, actuation of flight controls for thin wings, detections without mechanical sensors, electrical anti-icing and composite materials.

Liebherr-Aerospace is committed to building the green air transport of tomorrow.

The “liberated” companies, the open spaces, the agile methods such as the pioneers Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple have adopted now seem a standard to develop quickly, cost-controlled while attracting the younger generation.

Where does Liehherr-Aerospace stand from this point of view? Where is the gender parity and what is the trend?

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux:

The Liebherr-Aerospace Digital Transformation and Deployment of Future Plant Concepts Initiative includes a very important review of processes, methods, workspaces, man-machine interfaces and the central role of sharing the information. After some pilot experiments in recent years, our plan is now ready to be implemented systematically and will be launched in early 2020.

The ability to attract young talent, as well as gender parity, are central themes in our development strategy. From this point of view, our industry, the aeronautics industry – with its history – faces challenges even more ambitious to solve – compared to the long cycles that it traditionally had been organizing and which had a certain inertia.

It is up to us to find or invent a way to go faster than in the past while preserving the security and reliability features that lead to success.


Nicolas Bonleux, we thank you for kindly giving us this interview and to give our readers some elements of understanding about the Liebherr-Aerospace company and its current and future positioning.

Answer by Nicolas Bonleux :
Thank you and have a great day.

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