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Center has strong ties with Airbus

The National Composites Center’s relationship with commercial jet manufacturer Airbus runs deep.

The not-for-profit center recently secured a $500,000 line of credit through the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority to help the center make the most of its work with European commercial jet manufacturer Airbus.

NCC has two active agreements with Airbus: One to research new materials and the other to focus on finding and organizing top-tier suppliers across the country.

Lisa Novelli, NCC executive director, acknowledges that the second of the two agreements is going a bit slower than she likes, although she is optimistic about long-term prospects.

“I want to move this quicker so Ohio can pull in (new business),” Novelli said.

David Williams, Airbus Americas vice president of procurement, agreed that progress has been slower that he would like. But Airbus is also working with the Dayton Development Coalition, and like Novelli, he believes that with time, the right suppliers will be identified.

When they are, Williams expects Ohio suppliers to be in the “front shopping window,” he said.

“Now we have a model that will make us even more efficient,” Williams said Thursday.

Airbus and NCC reached two agreements in 2012. The most recent, announced in October, revealed that Airbus intends to double its annual $12 billion of spending in the United States by 2024, and the NCC is to help find the suppliers Airbus needs — including suppliers in Ohio.

“Ohio is their largest supply base,” Novelli said.

Dayton-region suppliers include GE Aviation in Evendale, Honeywell in Urbana and UTC Aerospace Systems in Troy. Airbus spends about $5.3 billion on Ohio on suppliers. That amount has grown 35 percent in last three years, and Airbus’ spending in Ohio is more than its spending in many nations, Williams said.

NCC’s first agreement with Airbus, announced in January 2012, was much quieter. In that five-year pact, the NCC agreed to conduct materials research for Airbus, with an eye toward crafting stronger, lighter airplane materials.

Jessica Ravine, of Buckeye Composites, an NCC tenant company, has been working on that research. The goal is to create materials for next-generation aircraft with properties Airbus wants, such as weight, strength and thermal electrical performance, she said.

If successful, the research could lead to Buckeye Composites becoming an integral part of Airbus’ supply chain, said Ravine, the company’s president.

“It’s certainly a good opportunity for our company,” Ravine said.

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