Farnborough Air Show

Abu Dhabi plans grand aero hub

 - July 15, 2008, 11:44 AM

In its effort to catch up with fast-growing neighbor Dubai as an aerospace hub, Abu Dhabi companies announced several key developments here at the Farnborough show yesterday. The deals will launch tier one aerospace manufacturing in the Arabian Gulf, and significantly expand local maintenance, repair and overhaul capability.

EADS and local sovereign wealth fund Mubadala signed an agreement under which the European manufacturer will use the Middle East as a supply base and develop local production capability. The deal is expected to generate around $1 billion in revenues for Mubadala’s aerospace division over the next 10 years.

The two companies plan to cooperate in the building of a $500 million composite aerostructures factory that will open in 2010. Initially, the plant will make aircraft components such as spoilers and flap-track fairings, but it could go on to make primary structures.

EADS and the sovereign wealth fund’s Mubadala Aerospace also plan to establish new engineering and research and development facilities to specialize in composite structures in Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile, Mubadala subsidiary Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) and EADS plan to expand maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities in Abu Dhabi. ADAT (formerly known as Gamco) will become part of the Airbus global MRO network and plans to spend $75 million to build a new 96,000-square-foot hangar to increase its capacity by 35 percent in 2010.

Rolls-Royce also is linking with Mubadala to create a joint venture to support aircraft engines in the Arabian Gulf region. The operation will offer the UK engine maker’s On-Wing Care maintenance program through ADAT’s facility. Services will include services such as engine changes and borescoping.

Finally, Abu Dhabi Airports Company plans to develop a dedicated business aviation airport at the former Al Bateen military airbase six miles from the city center. The $55 million development will result in a purpose-built facility with a 10,500-foot runway that can take aircraft up to the size of a Boeing Business Jet.