Monday, November 26, 2007

Mr. Sarkozy Brings Home Some of the Bacon

The New York Times reports today that France has landed a couple of big orders for Airbus, the nominally pan European aircraft company, and Areva, bes' li'l ole nuclear reactor company in France.

The Airbus order was not entirely unexpected , but what's interesting is the vote of no confidence in the A350 and A380 wide bodied aircraft programs. The Chinese ordered 110 A320s and 50 A330s which are both proven, in production bread and butter types that are not particularly advanced but will serve China's needs well. These are also aircraft that Airbus can make money on-lots of money, if they didn't give away the keys to the ranch to run up the order book as they have been known to do.

At this point, it is unknown how many of the A320s will be assembled at the Airbus assembly plant now building in Tianjin, but that's likely to be part of the equation. Also unknown at this point is the engine selection or avionics choice but whether it's the CFM56 or the IAE V2500, and if the avionics come from Rockwell Collins, the order's a win for American companies as well. It's likely that further dollar zone pressures may up the American content significantly as well.

The Areva project for two advanced nuclear reactors and a fuel supply contract is interesting, but one wonders how much technology transfer is involved.

The Chinese are known for leveraging domestic technology improvements as the price of admission to their admittedly huge domestic market, as we learned in the construction of the electrical plant at the Three Gorges Dam. There, the price of admission for Alstom, ABB and the others was showing the Chinese how to fabricate large hydroelectric generation plants.

Time will tell, but for now, there's likely to be a few drinks poured in Toulouse.

Photo credit Air France


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