When is a machine shop not simply a machine shop? When it decides to specialize, vertically integrate, and produce components focused on a specialty niche in the market. This is what Alta Precision has done to become one of the fastest growing suppliers of landing gear components in the industry.
We spoke with their CEO, Guillermo Alonso, in Montreal to find out more about this company that has developed an important niche among landing gear manufacturers in North America, Europe, and Latin America.
Alta Precision began its life as a machine shop supporting Bombardier and other OEMs in the Montreal area and was a high-quality general purpose machine shop with CMC capabilities. Over the last two decades, the company has grown, specialized in one segment of the market, and expanded its product offerings to include finishing and assembly of products, vertically integrating to become a tier 2 supplier delivering finished components.
From struts to axles, Alta Precisions manufacturers a number of components for landing gear, including assembly and finishing. The axles shown below begin life as a large billet that is hollowed, shaped, assembled, and finished, providing landing gear manufacturers such as Liebherr, Safran, Embraer, Heroux-Devtek and others with products meeting detailed specifications.
Alta’s growth included the acquisition of a company that provides specialized processing for metals in 2010, including the application of chromium and other finishes. This enabled Alta to control its own destiny with respect to scheduling, quality, and on-time performance for customers. Combined with full painting and assembly capabilities, Alta Precision has vertically integrated to provide sub-assemblies rather than parts, which is what OEMs are increasingly demanding.
The component shown above is an example of a completely finished product, including the assembly of hardware onto the piece that is manufactured in Montreal and treated, finished, painted to produce a finished subassembly.
Alta is also working with the US Air Force and has contracts for replacement components for legacy programs ranging from the B-52 to the F-16 and KC-135. Their specialization in landing gear, expertise in that area, and full-service capabilities have enabled them to land business with the USAF.
The Bottom Line
Through specialization, gaining strong domain expertise, and vertically integrating, Alta Precision transitioned from a CMC machine shop into a supplier delivering full subassemblies to major OEMs. The future for the company looks bright, as they are continuing investment in R&D, with topics ranging from the machine-ability of new materials to developing new processes, including cold spray, a form of additive manufacturing for repairs. While not yet a household name in aerospace, Alta Precision is well known to every manufacturer of landing gear as a trusted supplier.