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UPDATE 1-Goodrich says aerospace demand improving

* Stronger aftermarket growth seen in 2011, beyond

* Co expects to bid for any “re-engining” programs

ATLANTA, March 16 (Reuters) - Aerospace supplier Goodrich Corp GR.N expects commercial aircraft maintenance sales to start recovering in the second half as air travel improves.

Scott Kuechle, Goodrich chief financial officer, said order patterns in its maintenance and repair shops had picked up in the early part of the first quarter. Goodrich, which supplies brakes and landing gear for aircraft, expects more robust growth in maintenance sales in 2011 and beyond.

“We haven’t seen things deteriorate,” Kuechle told a Goldman Sachs investor conference broadcast over the Internet. “Those businesses that were still in the down trend in the fourth quarter seem to have stabilized and maybe improved a little bit.”

Goodrich expects year-over-year improvement in aftermarket sales in the second half of this year, Kuechle said. Still, he added that maintenance sales growth was expected to be fairly low this year ahead of a stronger performance next year.

“All the signs are there that improvement is coming,” Kuechle said.

Goodrich results were hurt in the last couple of years as weak air travel led carriers to take airplanes out of service and defer upgrades. Kuechle said airlines were lifting utilization rates of some aircraft as travel demand returns.

Goodrich also said it felt good about its ability to compete for business should planemakers Airbus EADS EAD.PA and Boeing Co BA.N launch programs to fit more efficient engines to existing single-aisle aircraft models, a process called "re-engining."

Airbus is expected to decide on refitting its A320 narrow-body family in coming months and a Boeing executive said last week that his company might have a decision on re-engining the 737 later this year.

Kuechle cited a “pretty high likelihood that one if not two re-engine programs get launched either during 2010 or certainly by early ‘11.”

He said a re-engining program could involve 2,000 to 3,000 planes and eventually generate a lot of aftermarket sales, and added that Goodrich would expect to bid “aggressively” should Airbus launch such a project. He said Goodrich already does thrust reverser and other work for A320 engines, a factor that likely boded well for the company in any re-engining competition.

Goodrich shares were up 38 cents at $72.03 in midday New York Stock Exchange trading. (Reporting by Karen Jacobs; editing by Andre Grenon)

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