THE NEED FOR SPEED

Turkey 2020 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

Kale Pratt & Whitney manufactures key components for Turkey's role in the F-35 program. Although the F-35's future is in doubt, the company is finding ways to adapt.

Akgün Filiz
BIOGRAPHY

Akgün Filiz has been the general manager of Kale Pratt & Whitney since 2016. Previously, he worked as a technical plant manager and in other positions for Bosch Group in Turkey. Filiz also worked for Bericap and AEG ETI in Turkey, and ITT Automotive in Germany. He has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Heilbronn University in Germany.

Kale Pratt & Whitney was founded in 2010 and began its operations in 2014 manufacturing aircraft engine parts and subassembly groups. Can you outline how the competencies from both Kale Group and Pratt & Whitney combined to create effective R&D and manufacturing capabilities?
Our company's JV contract was signed in 2010. The company was founded in 2011 in a small rented building within the Izmir ESBAŞ free zone, and our new plant building opened in 2014. It is a 16,250-sqm building on a 100,000-sqm land within the ESBAŞ free zone. In the first few years, competencies were gained both with experts from PW and Kale Group. Kale had been active in the aerospace and defense industry for some years, and it had experts made available to Kale Pratt & Whitney. Today, Kale Pratt & Whitney has developed its own qualified workforce staff in engineering, production, and quality. Together with all these achievements, we have an effective process development and continuous improvement projects in place.

What percentage of Kale Pratt & Whitney's revenue can be attributed to each the F-135 engine and the F-100 engine, and what additional aircraft parts does it currently manufacture?
Our company was founded in large part to manufacture F-135 engine parts, which is used in F-35 fighter jets. F-100s are also manufactured, though their share is small. Throughout the years, we began manufacturing commercial aircraft engine parts, especially for PW1000G GTF new generation engines used by Airbus for its NEO aircraft. Actual revenue share for F-135 military engine parts is 30%, while the share of commercial engine parts is 70%.

How will Kale Pratt & Whitney adjust its business model following the decision made to exclude Turkish manufacturers from the F-35 program?
We do have a significant F-35 business that accounts for 30% of our revenues, and our business will be adversely affected by losing this share. To reduce the potential impacts on our business and employees, we are working actively together with Pratt & Whitney to receive additional commercial parts to maintain the level of work we have. Pratt & Whitney's orders for GTF engines are continuously going up, and our JV in İzmir is growing in parallel. However, there will be a few years of setback before we replace F-135 parts manufacturing with the commercial engines. In addition, during our last general assembly meeting in 2019, we gained approval to enlarge our field of business aircraft structural parts.

What investments are needed to shift away from F-135 production?
We are in the process of checking the necessary investments. A total amount of USD90 million in investment has been already made, and investments in special processes such as hot forming, hot expander, hydroforming, plasma/HVOF coating, chemical lines, painting, brazing, electron beam welding, and so on have been made for sheet metal high Ti and Ni alloy sheet metal fabrications.

In the coming three years, what are Kale Pratt & Whitney Group's primary objectives?
We want to strengthen our position and be the first choice of our customers. With continuous improvement and implementation of lean philosophy in our shop, we want to become a Pratt & Whitney gold-level supplier. We will also continuously invest in knowledge and expertise of our employees to excel in all our processes. On the other hand, we also want to achieve success in our new field of activity, the structural parts for aircraft industry to balance our workload between aircraft engines and wing and fuselage parts. As a result, we plan to increase our actual sales to USD100 million in a few years.