x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

High hopes for aerospace plant

Mubadala Developments will break ground on its new aerospace plant, Strata Manufacturing, later this month.

Mubadala hinted it may develop a new aircraft model and build it in the emirate.
Mubadala hinted it may develop a new aircraft model and build it in the emirate.

PARIS // Mubadala Development, an investment arm of the Government, will break ground on its new aerospace plant later this month and has named the new company Strata Manufacturing. Strata will become the flagship property in a planned aerospace cluster at Al Ain International Airport, which the Government hopes will attract global aerospace firms through access to lower energy costs and cheaper labour compared with markets in North America and Europe, as well as the opportunity to participate in Abu Dhabi's growing aerospace ambitions. "This plant is a crucial step for Abu Dhabi in achieving its ambition for Strata to become a Tier One supplier for the next generation of civil aircraft during the next decade and beyond," said Homaid al Shemmari, the associate director of Mubadala's aerospace unit. Mubadala said more than US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) in aircraft parts contracts had already been ordered from various industry players including EADS and its subsidiary, Airbus. The plant will produce advanced composite aerostructures using carbon fibre, a key component in next-generation commercial aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, as well as other new ultra light and durable materials. The plant will manufacture wing components and assemblies for Airbus aircraft, as well as the tail parts for ATR, a joint venture between EADS and Finmeccanica, which produces aircraft in the 50 to 100-seat category. Aerospace has been designated a core growth area in Abu Dhabi's bid to diversify its economy and place Emiratis in high-value science and engineering jobs. The company will create 500 jobs for technicians, managers and engineers over the next five years, and 1,000 jobs by 2020, it said. "Strata will progressively build capabilities that include engineering, design, and research and development," the company said yesterday. Mubadala officials have also hinted that a new aircraft model could one day be developed and built in the emirate. Under Strata's first phase of operations, it will begin manufacturing advanced composite aerostructures from the fourth quarter next year in a 21,600 square metre facility. In the next few years, that is expected to expand to more than 60,000 sq metres of manufacturing space. Ross Bradley has been appointed the chief executive of Strata Manufacturing. He was most recently the chief executive of the UK's largest aerospace association, the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, and helped develop composite manufacturing facilities while working at BAE Systems. Mubadala has joined hands with several aerospace manufacturers to become its first customers as well as help develop the plant, including FACC, an Austrian aerospace company that is a major supplier to Boeing, and Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica subsidiary specialising in military jets and small passenger aircraft. The Al Ain aerospace cluster is being jointly developed by Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), which owns the airport. ADAC is planning a number of announcements at the week-long Paris Air Show, which begins today. In a related development yesterday, Mubadala bought a stake in SR Technics Group, a Swiss provider of technical services for the aviation industry, from Istithmar, a subsidiary of Dubai World, Bloomberg reported. Mubadala bought the 30 per cent stake for an undisclosed sum, raising its stake to 70 per cent. Dubai Aerospace Enterprises continues to hold the remaining 30 per cent, Mubadala said. igale@thenational.ae