The Paris Air Show takes place on 17-23 June in Le Bourget.
The Paris Air Show takes place on 17-23 June in Le Bourget.
Exelis' Salt Lake City composites centre houses a range of composites production equipment, including this autoclave.
Exelis' Salt Lake City composites centre houses a range of composites production equipment, including this autoclave.

Reinforced Plastics: What is the history of the Exelis Aerostructures business?

Mike Blair: ITT Exelis Aerostructures is a new business with 40 years of experience of developing a diverse variety of composite aircraft solutions.

We have consistently delivered on our customer commitments ensuring a strong foundation for growth, but have transformed the way we do business.

By leveraging our heritage and an expanded operational capacity, we have the ability to build upon our foundation of performance and quality to combine processes and extend our capabilities for our customers in commercial and military markets.

Reinforced Plastics: What is your target market?

Mike Blair: Our target market includes US and international, commercial and military aircraft manufacturers.

Exelis Aerostructures designs, manufactures and assembles composite structures and components for a variety of military and commercial aircraft, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35, Sikorsky CH-53K, Boeing 7-series family and the Airbus A380 aircraft.

We are also executing a disciplined expansion into automated material placement manufacturing.

Reinforced Plastics: Can you tell us a little more about your new composites facility in Salt Lake City and the composites technologies you are investing in?

Mike Blair: Exelis has made a significant investment in the composite structures business, adding infrastructure and enhanced automation capability to answer the needs of the marketplace, while adding key talent to our experienced team to grow the business.

Last year, we opened our Salt Lake City composite design and manufacturing centre, which added 250,000 ft2 of capacity, with a suite of composite production capabilities – automated fibre placement and tape laying, clean rooms, autoclaves, 5-axis machining, non-destructive inspection, paint and finishing. (See: ITT Exelis opens composite aerostructures centre.)

The production site was built with future growth in mind, including 275,000 ft2 of additional expansion immediately available.

Reinforced Plastics: What is the strategy for the Aerostructures business going forward?

Mike Blair: Today’s aerospace industry is in the midst of a massive transformation from metallic structures and assemblies to composites in both military and commercial aircraft platforms. It’s driven by replacement of inefficient older aircraft and growth in passenger traffic in the commercial market, and replacement needs and increased capability on the military side.

Production rates are increasing on nearly every platform we currently support and we are positioned well for additional work. Our core systems are in place and our team sees huge opportunity to surpass the competition by driving improvements into those systems.

About ITT Exelis

Exelis is a diversified, top-tier global aerospace, defense, information and technical services company. It specialises in communications, sensing and surveillance, critical networks, electronic warfare, navigation, air traffic solutions and information systems with growing positions in C4ISR, composite aerostructures, logistics and technical services.

Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, USA, the company employs about 19,900 people and generated 2012 sales of US$5.5 billion. 

We are centred around operational excellence. Our discipline in lean manufacturing and continuous improvement provides greater value to our customers and sets us apart in the marketplace. Our customers expect high-quality, economical composite solutions and we deliver.

Reinforced Plastics: What will you be highlighting to visitors at the Paris Air Show?

Mike Blair: At this year’s Paris Air Show, Exelis will be highlighting our composite structures design, manufacturing and assembly capabilities.

With our increased capacity and enhanced capabilities, Exelis Aerostructures is prepared to deliver for both US and International aircraft customers. ♦

Mike Blair is Vice President and General Manager of Aerostructures, the ITT Exelis business headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. In this role he oversees the management and operations of three composite structures facilities in two states.

Blair joined Exelis in 2011 as Vice President of Business Development for Composite Structures and transitioned into Vice President and General Manager in April 2012. He assumed his current position as VP & GM of the Aerostructures business in January 2013. Prior to joining Exelis, Blair spent 25 years with Alliant Techsystems (ATK) serving in a variety of positions including Vice President of Commercial Programs, Vice President of Business Development, Manager of Propulsion Technology and various Program Management and Engineering positions.