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The Italian aerospace industry is showing a new lease of life. It’s like a renaissance.


There’s a new and unexpected direction for regional aircraft; a Moscow-Rome route with an extension to Paris. We are undoubtedly witnessing the rebirth of a new and resolutely international star player involving Sukhoi for the plane itself, the Superjet 100, Alenia Aeronautica for total support of the Moscow operator and PowerJet for the power.
This is a strong trio: Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, the company formed by the famous military plane manufacturer, is the most westernised as well as the most dynamic of those involved in the new style Russian aeronautics industry. Alenia is the aviation branch of the powerful Italian group Finmeccanica, which is developing at high speed at the moment. As for PowerJet, it is the result of the savvy association of Snecma and NPO Saturn, two engine manufacturers who are determined to stake their claim in the increasingly strong regional aviation market.
The SuperJet 100, a twin-engine plane with 68 to 95 seats depending on the version, is technically very solid. Snecma and its Russian partner contribute modern power, together with another notable Italian contribution, that of Avio, which used to be in the Fiat group. Today it is the Italian chapter of this multilingual news item that is most noteworthy. Alenia, in fact, acquired 25% shares in the capital of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, which means it plays a major part in the programme. Moreover, Alenia and Sukhoi will create( on a 51/49% basis) a division common to both which will be responsible for the marketing of the SuperJet 100. In other words, Alenia is accelerating in leaps and bounds.
This comes at a time when the Italian manufacturer is seriously positioning itself to impose its military transport plane, the C-27J on the American military market and announcing that its advanced training jet, the MB-229CM, has been chosen by Malaysia.
Pier Francesco Guargualini, President of Finmeccanica, is full of great ambition. The group’s turnover, which is a shade more than 15 billion Euros per year at the moment, should increase by 50% between now and the year 2010. His leitmotiv : to make the company international and create a resolutely worldwide entity.
Guargualini’s priorities can annoy his European partners. It is a fact that the United States have a choice role in the Italian group’s activities, starting with the close association with Boeing and, in particular, the Dreamliner. Similarly, Italy plays a crucial role in the implementation of the programme for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning 11, alias Joint Strike Fighter. This also includes the installation of a final assembly line in the north of the peninsula.
And so goes aeronautic Italy which been neglected for a long time by the others in the sector and which has built up credibility by relying only on itself. Today it is on all fronts, dynamic and ambitious, and refusing to give priority to Europe because it prefers a la carte strategy that is resolutely world-wide.
The participation of Alenia in the SuperJet 100, still unnoticed by a lot of observers, illustrates this leap forward and is probably the precursor of other surprises. It is as if it is to remind us, in Italian in the text, that the world of aeronautics is in constant evolution. 
Pierre Sparaco – Toulouseweb-aero


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