Crossair acquires Sulzer aircraft engine group

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




(2000), "Crossair acquires Sulzer aircraft engine group", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Crossair acquires Sulzer aircraft engine group

Crossair acquires Sulzer aircraft engine group

Keywords: Crossair, Sulzer, Mergers and acquisitions

Crossair of Switzerland has acquired aircraft engine group, Sulzer Triebwerke AG of Oberwinterthur, Switzerland and the company will be duly renamed as the Crossair Aircraft Engine Repair Center (Crossair ARC).

Fred Kindle, CEO at Sulzer Industries, and Moritz Suter, President and CEO of Crossair, signed the purchase agreement. It covers the entire existing aircraft engine department plus its 44-strong workforce, as well as the rights to lease additional space. Crossair will utilise this space to quadruple the turnover within the next five years and to create about 150 new jobs.

For Sulzer the sale is a part of its "Performance" restructuring plan. Kindle says:

It is our responsibility as employer to bring business which is no longer suitable for our portfolio, or which cannot survive alone, into a new area which promises growth. In this way we give the employees concerned the vision of a future, we assist in maintaining employment in Switzerland and we create even more.

From the Crossair viewpoint it means the possibility of expanding its own activities in the field of aircraft engines and being able to reduce its dependence on external suppliers.

At its engine workshop at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Crossair can undertake only 20 per cent in value of the necessary engine overhaul work itself. For the repair of engine components, which represents about 60 per cent of the costs, external suppliers must be called upon, which is very expensive and which entails long delivery delays. The new Oberwinterthur company should in future undertake this work. In addition, there should be a considerable amount of third-party work. The Crossair Aircraft Engine Repair Center is well equipped to undertake this work.

In recent times, the department in the Sulzer concern has been responsible for the total maintenance of the Atar engines which power the Swiss Air Force Mirage combat aircraft. Additionally, it has been repairing or re-manufacturing, in a limited way, critical engine components for various clients, including Crossair. The new company will concentrate the existing know-how entirely on the working practices in the civil sector and massively expand them.


Sulzer is a well-known name in aviation circles. The company has a tradition dating back more than 50 years in the field of jet engines. During this period it gained attention with a number of trail-blazing innovations.

Sulzer caused a worldwide sensation for the first time in the field of aircraft engines shortly after the Second World War. The company developed for the planned Swiss N-20 combat aircraft what was at the time a sensational jet engine, the so-called bypass engine. Today, this type of engine is in everyday use, but in 1947 the Sulzer concept was at least ten years ahead of all other engine manufacturers. The strong position of the Winterthur Company was based primarily on its great experience in the field of industrial gas turbines.

For political reasons, the Project N-20 could be no more realised than the later competing P-16 programme, which at least reached the prototype stage. For this reason, the Sulzer jet engines did not get beyond the static test phase. Nevertheless, these studies lasted eight years, from which it can be seen that it was a project that was taken seriously. When, in 1959 the major engine manufacturers in the UK, France and the USA also started to build bypass engines, Sulzer abandoned further development work and concentrated on the maintenance, repair and, later, licenee manufacture of jet engines.

The Atar jet engines for the Swiss Mirage combat aircraft were thus manufactured according to plans provided by the French manufacturer SNECMA. Later, the company utilised its competence for revision work, repairs, maintenance and modifications. Although the Swiss Air Force has retired its Mirage combat aircraft from service, engines from Winterthur will still be used for a short while in the Mirage reconnaissance aircraft operations. This means that maintenance work for these military engines will continue for some months.

In the long term, the future of the company and its specialists lies in the civil sector. Thanks to its small size the company is flexible enough to be able to undertake demanding special work, such as complex repairs or the re-manufacturing of individual components to the highest possible quality standards. Under its new name of Crossair Aircraft Engine Repair Center, the company will continue its long tradition with a new impulse.

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