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Cobham essay



            Cobham plc is an international company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced aerospace and defense systems for land, sea and air platforms. The company has five technology divisions and one in the service sector that collectively specialize in the provision of components, sub-systems and services that keep people safe improve communications and enhance the performance of aerospace and defense platforms.(Cobham.com)

            Cobham is today a global leader in the defense and aerospace industry with businesses in five continents employing over 10,000 people producing world class products, systems and services. All this stems from one man and his enthusiasm for aviation. (Cobham, A. 2006)

It operates in three primary business sectors: aerospace systems, avionics and flight operations and services. It designs and makes equipment, specialized systems and components used within the search and rescue, civil and defense aviation, marine, aerospace, homeland security and communication markets. (Digital Look, 2006).

This research paper will explore the history of the company how it is started, when it is started, where it is started and who started it. It also discusses the competencies of the company to compete and survive along the way. Their key factors in order to sustain will be taken, their

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developmental allocations and financial strength.

History of Cobham

The founder Alan Cobham

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Born on 6 May 1894 to Frederick and Elizabeth Cobham, young Alan John, educated at Wilson’s Grammar School, Streatham, began his working life with a firm of clothing wholesalers in the City, but a subsequent brief exposure to farm work led to his joining the Army’s Veterinary Corps at the outbreak of the First World War. As the war progressed, Cobham began to recognize the importance of mechanical transport and in 1917, and by then a Staff Sergeant, he secured a transfer to the Royal Air Force and on 1 January 1919, was a civilian once again!
Determined to secure a post-war career in aviation, Cobham joined the British Aerial Transport Company. This promising start was however, short-lived, and very soon afterwards he combined forces with Fred and Jack Holmes to form the Berkshire Aviation Company. During the latter half of 1919 and the early months of 1920, Cobham toured England and Scotland giving joy-rides in a war surplus Aero 504K, and it was during this period that he met his future wife, an attractive actress who was at that time appearing at the Middles borough Theatre.

1924 was a momentous year for Cobham. In addition to establishing himself alongside other famous racing aviators of the day, he was chosen to accompany the Director of Civil Aviation Sir Sefton Brancker to India and Burma. The purpose of the visit was to determine the viability of setting up airship routes to the Far East, but following his safe return home (despite the odd forced landing) Brancker expressed his conviction that it would be the aero plane and not the airship that would eventually win the day.

In 1926 Cobham flew from Rochester to London, by the way of Australia, landing on the River Thames in front of the Houses of Parliament before an estimated one million people thronging the bridges and embankments! His triumph was marred only by a freak incident which resulted in the death of his engineer and long time companion, Arthur Elliott.

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By 1932, Cobham’s enthusiasm had turned towards providing a touring air show. Although formally registered as National Aviation Day (later Display) Limited, his traveling fleet of aircraft and airborne performers was more popularly referred to as ‘Cobham’s Flying Circus’. Skilled aerobatic pilots, wing-walkers, parachutists and novelty turns thrilled crowds the length and breadth of the country, and also, during the winter of 1932/33, at locations throughout South Africa.

The Beginning of the Company

          In 1934 Sir Alan Cobham founded a company to investigate the use of air refueling, and today his pioneering system is used in both military and civil applications worldwide. Air refueling is now only a small part of the Group’s turnover of more than £1bn. (Cobham Website)

Cobham was determined to introduce a new company, Flight Refueling Limited, to develop air-to-air refueling equipment and techniques that could be employed commercially. Today, using either (or both) the British ‘probe and drogue’ method or the American ‘boom’ system introduced by Boeing, the transfer of fuel in flight – the vital link as foreseen by Sir Alan Cobham – is a commonplace feature undertaken by major air forces throughout the world.

Sir Alan Cobham retired in 1969 at the age of 75 when his son, Michael, became chairman of the Group in his stead. The Cobham legacy continues as Cobham plc grows both acquisitively and organically to develop its global status in the world’s defense and aerospace markets, in many of which it is a market leader.

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The Company Organization

Chief Executive

 Alan Cook

Chief Operating Officer

Andy Stevens

President Cobham Antennas

Pat Matthews

President Cobham Life Support

Kelly Coffield

Managing Director Cobham AR & AME

Richard Tyson

President Cobham Avionics & Surveillance

Charlie Stuff

President Cobham Defense Electronics System

Dave Gaggin

Group Director of HR

Martin Burgess

Group Director of Strategy

Pete Raby

Group Director of Communication

Julian Hellbrand

Special Projects Director

Michelle Vincent


Head of Technology

Vincent Mifsud

ERA Technology

Strategic Marketing

Charles Hughes

Bud Orr

Division Support Office

Director of Investor Relations

Julian Wais

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Key factors in keeping the Success

         The company has six division- five technologies, and service (Cobham Online), this keep the Cobham Unique in serving the customer. The officer in charge in each division has an unparalleled reputation for quality, reliability and innovation. Cobham AR&AME specializes in the requirements capture, concept design, system qualification and flight test certification of mission systems for the aerospace and defense markets. Its portfolio includes air refueling systems, refueling probes, auxiliary mission equipment, marine and naval sub-systems and air traffic control display systems. (Corporate News, 2006).

          I addition, Richard Tyson says in the corporate news: “The division is well positioned in niche and specialist markets and we look forward to continued growth of our core capabilities. Work continues to align the technology and product development roadmaps across the division as we look to maximize the synergy inherent in the businesses.” The standard has been continuously updated to maintain its relevance to emerging technologies.

          The company has a clear focus on communication products used in a mobile environment: either by people or mounted on vehicles, trains, planes and ships. Therefore the division’s markets, strategy and product development all reflect one theme: “Communications in Motion”.

          The commitment and continues innovation will keep the companies ahead of others and strategy to focus on core technologies in rapidly growing markets makes them leaders in the future technology with the continues risk management training, no doubt they will lad the century.

Cobham priorities in Allocation of their Resources

          The companies’ looks out and prioritize their resources in the following: the division’s challenges centre on a number of new and continuing projects. For instance, it has received follow-on orders for the Small Diameter Bomb BRU-61/A pneumatic rack from Boeing.
This contract continues to re-position the company in the critical US weapons carriage and release market. It lays the foundation for additional cold gas product development and builds upon pneumatic technology acquired some years ago from Boeing.

The division is currently focusing on a number of key projects. One of the most significant is the BGAN development, a broadband service used through INMARSAT. This work is being spearheaded by Omni poles in South Africa, and involves a two to three year development period. The resulting aviation products will be sold by both Chelton Inc in Texas and Chelton Electrostatics in Marlow, with subsequent sea and land versions being sold by Sea Tel and TracStar. (Corporate News, 2006).

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Financial Strength

Sorted in Group News #149 Cobham Trading Update 12 Dec 2005

           Trading in the continuing divisions of Cobham Life Support and Cobham Air Refueling & Auxiliary Mission Equipment (AR & AME) has been good, with recent orders including one covering an urgent operational requirement for life support equipment for ground vehicles in Iraq and a €58m order for Euro fighter Typhoon Chaff and Flare systems. Cobham AR & AME has also been selected by Airbus to supply its fourth generation air refueling system for tanker versions of the A400M Military Transport Aircraft (A400M). The initial order for these systems will be worth in excess of €85m.

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Trading in Flight Operations & Services has been broadly satisfactory. NAS has been        selected as preferred bidder for the A$1bn Coast watch programmed in Australia which, when finalized, should result in a further contract extension to this programmed until 2020.
Trading in Chelton has been strong. Recent acquisitions have been successfully integrated into the Cobham Defense Electronic Systems Division and orders for intercom systems for the US military light utility vehicles are now being shipped in volume. Other significant orders include three major suites of antennas for the A400M and there have been increased sales of stabilized antennas for oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. The Cobham Antennas Division has completed the purchase of the remaining shareholding of its former joint venture, TracStar Inc, for a consideration of US$7.6m in cash, further consolidating its focus on the growing satellite antenna market.


          The Cobham companies have displayed good staff with commitment in delivering good service tot heir clients. Keeping new technology making them a head of there companies and with continues risk assessments methods no wonder they can capture the next century in the air industry.

          Finally, they delivered a strong financial performance, successfully integrated the largest acquisition to date and have completed a strategic review which is a defining point for Cobham. They look with confidence to the future and believe the Group is well positioned for continued organic and acquisition growth, exploiting and enhancing our leadership across high technology growth segments of the aerospace and defense market.

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Alan Cobham. (2006). Cobham plc, Brook Road, Windborne, Dorset, BH21 2BJ, U.K. November 20, 2006, from http://www.cobham.com/index.asp?pageID=27&menuID=2_1_3

Cobham, Alan. (2006). History of the Company. November 20, 2006, from http://www.cobham.com/index.asp?pageID=8&menuID=2_1

Company Overview. (2006). Digital Look the Investor Center. November 20, 2006, from http://www.digitallook.com/cgi-bin/digital/company.cgi?id=10155

Corporate News (2006). Insight into the Division. November 20, 2006, from http://www.cobham-news.com/11/default.asp?issue=11&cat=4&article=306

Group News (2005). # 149 Cobham Trading Update. November 20, 2006, fromhttp://www.cobhamlifesupport.com/page.aspx?DocId=114&MenuId=2

Organizational Set Up. (n. d.) Cobham Online. November 20, 2006, from http://www.cobham.com/download/organisation_chart.pdf


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