Mubadala Aerospace is positioning itself as a tier-one supplier of large composite structures to Airbus or Boeing for future single-aisle aircraft as part of its continuing drive to become a top player in the global aerospace industry. “We’re looking at a stake of up to 20 percent in the composites content of any new aircraft,” executive director, aerospace unit, Homaid Al Shemmari, said yesterday.
Al Shemmari has also revealed the company intends to build a “business jet-sized aircraft,” with a 2018 target date. “We will design, manufacture and support this aircraft,” he told AIN. The move follows Mubadala’s purchase of a 35-percent stake in Piaggio in 2006. The Italian manufacturer is a specialist in composites and will, said Al Shemmari, be a major contributor to the design of the new aircraft.
The moves are all part of Mubadala’s drive to create a “high technology, knowledge-intensive” aerospace industry for Abu Dhabi, reflecting the government’s desire for the country to cement its industrial future by diversifying into high-value industries through partnerships with international aerospace companies.
At Farnborough, Mubadala signed deals with Goodrich, Honeywell and Sikorsky, further expanding its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) presence. Al Shemmari said Mubadala intends to become “the world’s third biggest MRO company” by 2020, after Lufthansa Technik and KLM Engineering and Maintenance. In 2009 the company increased its stake in SR Technics from 40 percent to 70 percent. It already has a major MRO operation in the Middle East–Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies. Al Shemmari confirms the company is looking for other MRO partnerships in the U.S. and Asia. “The USA is a must and we have to be involved in South-east Asia as well, but we have not decided which should be first.”
Mubadala Aerospace will complete the first phase of construction of its new Strata composites manufacturing facility at Al Ain, its burgeoning aerospace cluster in Abu Dhabi, by the end of this year. Expansion over the next few years will provide more than 646,000 sq ft of production space–almost triple the initial area. Contracts worth $2 billion have already been signed with EADS, Airbus and Alenia Aeronautica, with which the company has formed composites manufacturing partnerships.
Al Shemmari declined to be specific about how Piaggio will be involved in the new business jet and whether it will carry the name of the Italian company. “These are decisions we have not made,” he said. Reports have indicated that Piaggio is working on a new aircraft called the P1XX, but it is clear that Mubadala is behind the funding of the program and will provide major subassemblies, even if final assembly takes place at Piaggio’s Genoa factory in Italy, where the P-180 Avanti twin pusher prop is built.
Within 10 years the Al Ain aerospace complex will employ 10,000 people, said Al Shemmari, 50 percent of whom will be Abu Dhabi nationals. “We want to create high-value jobs for UAE nationals,” he said.
The deal with Goodrich creates a joint venture operation at Al Ain to establish the region’s first dedicated landing gear maintenance facility. The new company will support Boeing and Airbus aircraft and there are plans to expand into the military sector. The Honeywell agreement grants special rights to Mubadala and SR Technics as authorized service providers for Honeywell components on existing aircraft and the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 when they enter service.
The joint venture with Sikor-sky finalizes a deal signed at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi in 2009 establishing a military MRO center at Al Ain.