x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Reaching for the sky in Al Ain

The dream of creating an aerospace hub in Al Ain is moving ever closer as two of the key companies on the project announce major milestones.

Homaid al Shemmari, the executive director of Mubadala Aerospace and the chairman of Strata, says expansion is in the offing.
Homaid al Shemmari, the executive director of Mubadala Aerospace and the chairman of Strata, says expansion is in the offing.

Abu Dhabi's plans to create an aerospace cluster in Al Ain has gained momentum, with two of the companies behind the project announcing milestones and marketing strategies.

The cluster will serve as a regional centre for aircraft manufacturing, maintenance and training.

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has named new firms it is targeting to set up factories at the industrial zone around Al Ain International Airport, which will help amass a range of crucial tenants across various sectors.

In addition, Mubadala Aerospacesaid it briefed more than 100 aerospace companies last week on the progress of Strata, its composite aero-structures plant that is under contract with Airbus for aircraft parts.

Haytham Haidar, the chief development officer at ADAC, said his company had been collaborating with Mubadala Aerospace - a unit of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government - to drive the project forward.

"The aerospace segment is being led by our colleagues at Mubadala Aerospace and we have been working very closely with them for the past year," he said last week.

Confirmed projects at the cluster include Strata, the Horizon Flight Academy, and the Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre (AMMROC), an US$800 million (Dh2.93 billion) joint venture between Mubadala Aerospace and Sikorsky Aerospace Services of the US. In addition, the Al Ain International Aviation Academy is located nearby.

Mr Haidar revealed plans to attract Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (ADASI), a maker of unmanned aerial, marine and land vehicles.

ADASI has managed Al Sabr, an unmanned aerial vehicle programme for the UAE Air Force that includes maintenance and training. Owned by Tawazun, an investment company backed by the state, ADASI is expected to add more programmes in the years ahead.

Mr Haidar identified Dasbat, a joint venture between Dassault Aviation of France and Baynuna Group of Abu Dhabi, as another target for the cluster.

Dasbat has supplied the UAE military with spares for its fleet of Dassault fighter jets and has outlined potential plans for local manufacturing of business and military jets. Both ADASI and Dasbat were unavailable for comment.

Mr Haidar said Strata had reached an important milestone. "In September this year Al Ain witnessed the opening of a plant that started the production of the first composites [facility] in the region."

Homaid al Shemmari, the executive director of Mubadala Aerospace and the chairman of Strata, said his firm hosted the aerospace suppliers from France, Germany, Italy and the UK ahead of an important announcement this year. There are also plans to increase production capability at the plant.

"Establishing an aerospace industry in the emirate is an important part of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and I'm proud that we're able to attract leading suppliers from around the world to Strata," Mr al Shemmari said.

 

igale@thenational.ae