x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Strata close to receiving certification for Boeing plane parts

Mubadala's aerostructures manufacturing plant in Al Ain will soon make ribs and vertical fins for the Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft.

Boeing is close to certifying the UAE to manufacture parts for its 777 and 787 aircraft. It comes as the Seattle-based plane maker ramps up sales throughout the region.

In November, Boeing signed a deal with Strata, Mubadala’s aerostructures manufacturing plant in Al Ain, to supply as much as US$2.5 billion in advanced composites and machined metals to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and 777X.

“Strata is in the process of getting certified to manufacture those ribs and they go inside the vertical fins for the worldwide market. This is very exciting and it’s a complicated part,” said Jeff Johnson, the president of Boeing Middle East.

“The certification should be this year. In fact, I hope very soon,” he added.

The company expects to sell about 2,610 planes in the Middle East worth $550bn over the next 20 years, according to its market outlook.

About 70 per cent of those planes are for growth. Worldwide, the trend differs – as much as 60 per cent of the new aircraft in the rest of the world are for fleet replacement.

“I think the Middle East is about 12 to 15 per cent of the worldwide market, so it’s big,” said Mr Johnson. “I think it is a solid market if you look at where the Middle East and the UAE sit on the globe. They happen to be within eight hours from two-thirds of the world’s population.”

The American company is also keen to tap into underserved markets in the region such as Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as their security situations improve.

“Look at Iraq. Iraq is 50 million people. I don’t know when peace will break out and security will get better, but they have huge oil reserves. Also, there are a lot of Iraqis internationally that are going to move [there],” said Mr Johnson.

“Afghanistan, I don’t know if this is a big market, but again there are elections and things will look better. I think there are enough emerging countries that are untapped that still will make the Middle East a huge market.”

The UAE also plays a significant role for Boeing. Not only do half the orders for the Middle East come from the country, but making the parts locally saves the company money.

Boeing believes the UAE manufacturing facility represents “a win-win” for itself and the UAE.

“We want to make a lower cost and a better capability production here. It is part of cost reduction and solidifying our supply chain. It matches the [Abu Dhabi] national vision of 2030. I think all of that together is a win-win,” said Mr Johnson.

Investing in the aerospace industry falls under Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision to create a diverse and sustainable economy away from oil.

selgazzar@thenational.ae