x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Aircraft maintenance plan wins OK

The European Commission approves a joint venture between Mubadala and United Technologies on a military aircraft maintenance business in Abu Dhabi.

The European Commission yesterday approved a joint venture between Mubadala Development Company and the US-based United Technologies Corporation on a military aircraft maintenance business in Abu Dhabi. The regulatory approval helps pave the way for Mubadala, the strategic investment arm of the Abu Dhabi Government, to develop a home-grown aerospace industry that will take aim at customers throughout the region.

The joint venture will seek to tap into a regional market worth as much as US$4 billion (Dh14.7bn) per year to service fixed-wing and rotorcraft operated by regional air forces, including the F-16 fighter jet and Black Hawk helicopters. Abu Dhabi is diversifying its non-oil economy and with growing military and commercial aviation fleets, the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business is considered particularly ripe with potential in the Gulf.

Under the agreement, Mubadala will work with United Technologies subsidiary, Sikorsky Aerospace Services, an established player in the military aviation maintenance business. The venture is expected to create an additional 4,000 new jobs in the emirate, including many for Emiratis. News of the alliance with United Technologies was first announced at the IDEX military expo in Abu Dhabi in February. Like other Mubadala joint ventures, including an engine MRO partnership with Rolls-Royce, it has sought approval with the European Commission to do business on the continent.

David Adler, the president of Sikorsky Aerospace Services, said this year that the goal of the military MRO initiative was to create a "one-stop shop" for all logistics needs for the UAE Armed Forces, in addition to serving the wider region. As the joint venture is formed, a team from Sikorksy Aerospace Services will base themselves in the emirate to help create a centre for first and second-line maintenance as well as depot-level repairs, he said.

Sikorsky Aerospace Services is part of Sikorksy Aircraft Corporation, the 70-year-old US manufacturer of civilian and military rotorcraft, including the Black Hawk. The maintenance company already holds contracts with the US Air Force and Navy to service not only its own aircraft but also those made by other aerospace companies, including the Lockheed Martin and its F-16, in use by the UAE Air Force.

Currently, much of the military maintenance work for the region is done in the US and Europe, while in Saudi Arabia, Boeing has formed a joint venture for military MRO called the Al Salaam Aircraft Company. igale@thenational.ae