ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi's new focus on aerospace is having profound effects on one of the country's oldest aviation firms. Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (Adat) is undergoing some of the biggest changes in its 31-year history after its new shareholder, Mubadala, an investment vehicle of the Abu Dhabi Government, signed new accords with the world's biggest aerospace companies. In the span of one week, Mubadala and Adat signed far-reaching deals with the engine makers, Rolls-Royce and GE, as well as Eads, the parent company of Airbus. At the same time, Adat's largest customer, Etihad Airways, has signed a record US$43 billion (Dh157.81bn) order for up to 205 new aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, which means the Abu Dhabi carrier will require greatly expanded maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services in the future.
John Byers, the chief executive at Adat, said the recent announcements were key to the company's future growth. "This should potentially expand our portfolio of customers," he said. Adat would be able to service Eads aircraft in the region and provide fleet management, he said. "It's the whole gambit of aircraft maintenance." With Rolls-Royce, Mr Byers said Adat would begin to provide engine maintenance and asset management for engine system accessories.
Meanwhile, Adat's joint venture with GE, Gulf Turbine Services, would create new opportunities to provide field service and repair capability for the oil and gas industry, he said. In the case of the GE and Eads, Adat's involvement was a follow-on to larger, strategic partnerships between Abu Dhabi and the two global companies. Mubadala indicated yesterday it would invest billions of dollars into GE to become one of its top 10 shareholders. The Eads tie-up was part of another strategic alliance that initially calls for Mubadala to build small aircraft components for Eads's Airbus unit - such as flap track fairings - with the goal of eventually becoming a "tier one" supplier to the aerospace giant.
The inclusion of Adat as a preferred partner in the Middle East for the three companies should help the aircraft maintenance firm achieve its target of more than doubling its revenues to $800 million by 2012, a goal originally outlined by Mubadala when it took over the company last November. Mubadala is also expected to usher in changes for some of its other aviation assets. It is currently in discussions with the US defence contractor, Northrop Grumman, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to develop an aviation college, and it remains to be seen whether that new venture will be integrated with Mubadala's Horizon International Flight Academy, based in Al Ain.