The Groupe Latécoère (French: [ɡʁup latekɔɛʁ]) is an aircraft company based in Toulouse, France.[1] Founded by the aeronautics pioneer Pierre-Georges Latécoère during 1917, the company became well known in its first few decades for its range of seaplanes, such as the six-engined Latécoère 631.

Groupe Latécoère
Company typePublic
FoundedSeptember 1917
FounderPierre-Georges Latécoère
HeadquartersToulouse, France
RevenueIncrease €659 million
Decrease €6 million
Number of employees
4,958 (2018)

Presently, Groupe Latécoère operates as a major supplier of aerostructures, producing sections of fuselage and doors, having become the second-largest European supplier of onboard electrical wire harnesses and avionics bays through its Latelec subsidiary company. It is currently a member of the CAC Small and participates in all segments of aeronautics: commercial airliners with Airbus and Boeing, regional aircraft with Embraer and Bombardier, business aircraft with Dassault Aviation, as well as military aircraft with Dassault and Airbus.



The company has its roots in the First World War; during September 1917, aeronautics pioneer Pierre-Georges Latécoère decided to invest in a series of factories in Toulouse.[2][3] The business initially focused on the production of military material, such as shells and aircraft. It reportedly delivered roughly 800 aircraft to the French Army.[2]

Following the end of the conflict, Latécoère engaged in the design and manufacture of numerous seaplanes.[2] Perhaps the most significant of these was the six-engined Latécoère 631, a large passenger aircraft designed for transatlantic journeys. Billed as being The Ship of the Skies, the 631 performed its maiden flight during 1939; a total of 10 aircraft were completed.[2] It was the largest production seaplane to ever be built, having a wingspan roughly one-third larger than the Short Sunderland, another contemporary large seaplane.[2] The type was performing regular passenger services up until September 1955.[4]

By the turn of the century, Groupe Latecoere was principally known for the manufacture of aircraft equipment and aerostructures production.[5][6] In the equipment sector, it is a leading manufacturer of avionics bays, onboard electrical harnesses, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems. Aerostructure work includes the production of fuselage sections, including both passenger and cargo doors, as a subcontractor to multiple aircraft manufacturers, such as Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Bombardier Aerospace and Embraer.[6] Furthermore, Groupe Latecoere provides design and engineering services for select clients. In addition to the firm's primary base in France, it operates at locations throughout the world, including the Czech Republic, Romania, the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Tunisia, Mexico and Brazil.[6] Latecoere SA operates through a number of subsidiary businesses, including Letov Kbely, Latecoere do Brasil, and LaTelec, among others.[6]

During the early 2010s, there were rumours that the British industrial conglomerate GKN would potentially acquire Groupe Latécoère.[7] In early 2015, as a consequence of the company's high debt ratio, the firm restructured its operations, resulting in a significant drop in debt levels via an equity exchange, opening itself up to greater foreign ownership in the process.[8][9] By September 2017, the company's financial situation had improved to such an extent that it was reportedly once again looking to expand its aerospace portfolio via acquisitions.[10] That same year, it also committed to the establishment of a new company headquarters.[11]

In early April 2019, it was announced that private equity firm Searchlight Capital had agreed to purchase a 26 percent stake in Groupe Latécoère in exchange for $106.8 million.[12] By December 2019, the buying of additional shares had given Searchlight a controlling stake in the firm; this generated some political controversy over the firm's now-foreign ownership.[13]

Aircraft products


aircraft marked * were projects only

Missile products for the French Navy


Current products


Source [14]

Current leadership

  • Chairman of the Board: Pierre Gadonneix
  • CEO: Thierry Mootz

The name Latécoère is part of a "mystique" in France around the beginning of aviation and adventurers. It is part of a famous song by Henri Salvador, "Jardin d'Hiver", in its 3rd verse :

"Je voudrais du Fred Astaire
Revoir un Latécoère
Je voudrais toujours te plaire
Dans mon jardin d'hiver"

A possibly even more popular (and arguably very gross) reference is found in Lola Rastaquouère, a song by Serge Gainsbourg, a famous and controversial French artist:

"Comment oses-tu me parler d'amour toi, hein
Toi qui n'as pas connu Lola Rastaquouère
Je lui faisais le plein comme au Latécoère
Qui décolle en vibrant vers les cieux africains"

Latécoère is mentioned by name in the first sentence of Antoine de Saint Exupéry's famous autobiographical work, Wind, Sand, and Stars, (1936) - from the English translation:

"In 1926 I was enrolled as student airline pilot by the Latécoère Company, the predecessors of Aéropostale (now Air France) in the operation of the line between Toulouse, in southwestern France, and Dakar, in French West Africa."


  1. ^ "Terms and Conditions." Groupe Latécoère. Retrieved on 13 June 2012. "135, rue Périole BP 25211 31079 TOULOUSE CEDEX 5" - Access
  2. ^ a b c d e "Seaplane Rally Biscarrosse". 27 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Latécoère celebrates 100 years of innovation!". Groupe Latécoère. September 2017.
  4. ^ "Latécoère 631". Aeroplane. No. January 2014. Cudham: Kelsey Publishing. pp. 102–03. ISSN 0143-7240.
  5. ^ "About the Group". Groupe Latécoère. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d "Latecoere SA". Reuters. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  7. ^ Kavanagh, Michael (25 March 2011). "GKN succession path runs smooth to Stein". Financial Times.
  8. ^ "Southern European jurisdictions race to close restructuring law gap on UK scheme but some hurdles remain – conference coverage" (PDF). Debt Wire. 11 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Latécoère, still in Toulouse, but not quite French any more". 2 May 2015.
  10. ^ "France's Latecoere looks out for targets in aerospace consolidation". Reuters. 18 September 2017.
  11. ^ "BRIEF-Icade signs framework agreement with Latecoere to deliver headquarters in 2019". Reuters. 27 March 2017.
  12. ^ Kar-Gupta, Sudip (2 April 2019). "Searchlight Capital to buy 26 percent stake in France's Latecoere". Reuters.
  13. ^ "Concerns over U.S. Latecoere purchase overblown: Dassault CEO". Reuters. 9 January 2020.
  14. ^