Manuela Marangio heads Leonardo Aerostructures Division at Grottaglie facility_Overseas information_news_China composite information network

Manuela Marangio heads Leonardo Aerostructures Division at Grottaglie facility

   Date:2024-05-14     Source:CompositesWorld     Hits:67     Comment:0    
Core tips:Female mechanical engineer is responsible for Leonardo Aerostructures’ entire production engineering plant, dedicated to several major aeronautic programs.

Manuela Marangio. Source | Manuela Marangio

Manuela Marangio, a STEM graduate and mechanical engineer, has found a place at the helm of Leonardo’s (Rome, Italy) Grottaglie facility, which is dedicated to the flagship Boeing 787 aeronautics program. She is now plant manager for the plant’s Aerostructures Division.

In an interview with La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, she recalls, “On the day we were hired [16 years ago], we were told that among us new hires there would be the next head of the plant, but I would not have imagined that one day I would be the boss. Even if I admit it, I have always believed in it and I have worked hard to become one.”

Marangio coordinates the work of 1,300 people, directing the production facility in the processing of carbon fiber for several important aeronautical programs in the civil and military sectors. She also heads up a team of about 50 people responsible for supporting the manufacture and assembly of two sections of the Boeing 787-8, 9 and 10 versions, supplying working instructions, tools and CNC machine programming in support of workshop activities.

According to La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, Marangio set foot inside the Grottaglie facility for the first time in 2006, just a few months after graduating from the University of Salento. She was selected by the company and placed in a group of “HP” engineers, i.e., those with high potential. She worked in configuration management for several years, acquiring skills and responsibilities in the field of production engineering. In 2016, she was appointed manager of technical services, which has led her on her current path assuming responsibility for the entire Taranto plant.


“When, as a university researcher, I was asked to be given a tour of the facility as it was still being built, I immediately fell in love: Right in front of me, just one meter away, I could see many of the machines and systems I had learned about in my studies, and I had no hesitation in leaving the academic world to begin this journey within the company,” she says.

This same plant, 20 years ago, changed the pace in the production of large aeronautical structures, particularly for the fuselage sections of the B787 Dreamliner — Leonardo currently designs and builds 14% of the entire composite structure, including the central and central-rear sections of the carbon fiber fuselage, using an automated, one-piece barrel technology.


“It’s a challenge that’s not just technological — introducing innovative materials and processes — but also organizational, requiring a constant increase in productivity up to a maximum of 14 fuselages per month,” Marangio explains. Challenges and, above all, innovation which have been, as she puts it, “a gymnasium of curiosity, dedication and continuous commitment,” all aspects that she now determinedly applies to new projects coming in.

Of the activities that she has been involved in and that she is most proud of, Marangio particularly recalls, in 2017 —  at the height of an accelerated production rate (14 fuselages per month) — the raising in efficiency of Leonardo’s strategic assembly line to cope with the demands and needs of an innovative program). In concrete terms, she explains, this meant carrying out a critical review of each step of the process: “We managed to identify several areas with scope for improvement, looking not only at the product but also at the process and the quality,” she says. “It was a tiring experience, but one full of achievements shared with my team and the other partners in the 787 program.”


Marangio also mentions another project that she is currently working on with her colleagues — a joint development program for the design, production and testing of carbon fiber fuselages for the Vertical Aerospace VX4 electric aircraft.

Skills that she considers essential are analytical ability, tenacity and leadership, together with best practices like process standardization, data sharing and historicization. “With my team I’ve continually pursued internal improvement, and implementing (simple but functional) platforms to share the various steps of the process, from configuration management to work cycles and rework instruction management,” she says.  


In her work, just as in her personal life, Marangio’s interest in change and the lesson she has learned about “thinking simple” have been fixed values in her journey. “We need to walk in the world with a persistent curiosity, one step after the other, occasionally losing our balance in the process of learning to walk and then to run,” she believes.

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