Abu Dhabi’s goal of creating a world-class aviation industry is moving closer to reality with the assistance of Airbus and its EADS parent company in a cooperation that includes the manufacture of airframe components – called aerostructures – in both composite and metallic materials.
Creating a viable aviation sector is a cornerstone in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s diversification strategy from an oil-based economy, and it has been working closely with EADS/Airbus during the past several years in pursuing this goal. The cooperation provides EADS and Airbus with a highly capable supplier in a region which also is a key market for new sales.
This collaboration began with elements called composite flap track fairings for Airbus’ A330/A340 long-range jetliners, which are housings that streamline airflow around the wing flaps’ external activation linkages. Arranged through the Abu Dhabi government-owned Mubadala Development Company, production of these fairings has been progressively provided to a purpose-built factory of Mubadala’s Strata composite aerostructures company in the city of Al Ain.
Construction of Strata’s Al Ain facility began in September 2009, transforming desert land into a fully-qualified installation with 21,600 sq. meters of floor space in just 10 months. Deliveries of the first assembled products from Strata began in September 2010, with the company now manufacturing A330 flap track fairings as a single-source supplier to Airbus.
Based on this achievement, other composite manufacturing work packages are being transferred to Strata, including the A380’s flap track fairings, along with wing spoilers and ailerons for the A330.
Airbus also is bringing metallic component work packages to Abu Dhabi, with the activity assigned to Tawazun Precision Industries (TPI), a fully-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Offset Program Bureau’s Tawazun investment arm. A purpose-built factory is now entering operation for the activity, with the production of some 50 different parts of different sizes being assigned in 2011 and 2012 from Airbus and its suppliers to TPI – including titanium spars for the A330 and a wide range of aluminium parts for the A330 long-range and A320 single-aisle family programmes.
“It has been a true success story, as Abu Dhabi continues to prove its capabilities with good quality products, on-target costs and faster-than-expected ramp-ups in manufacturing,” said Lee London, the Airbus Senior Director - International Cooperation, Middle East. “The results have led us to increase the amount of work being placed with Abu Dhabi, which will become more and more involved in the Airbus supply chain.”
Airbus also is assisting Abu Dhabi in other activity, including offering training and education opportunities for the emirate’s future manufacturing personnel, engineers and managers; providing advice and consultancy on research and engineering; as well as assisting the Mubadala-owned Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies company in joining Airbus’ exclusive MRO Network of approved maintenance, repair and overhaul services