Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mubadala joins with EADS to build parts for A380s

Adat was approved to service Rolls-Royce's
line of Trent jet engines, which are
found on planes such as the A380. Getty Images
FARNBOROUGH // Mubadala will build components for the A380, the world’s largest aircraft, as part of a strategic alliance with EADS, the European defence and aerospace giant.

The deal was one of several announcements at the Farnborough International Air Show made by Mubadala, an investment vehicle of the Government, which has identified aerospace as a key driver for future job creation and economic diversification within the emirate.

Other deals announced at the air show this week have included a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (Adat) – an aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overhaul firm owned by Mubadala – and Rolls-Royce, one of the top two aircraft engine firms in the world. With the partnership, Adat becomes one of the only engine maintenance firms in the Middle East approved to service the Trent line of aircraft engines, which are outfitted on planes such as the A380 Superjumbo.

Adat also said this week it would invest US$75 million (Dh275m) to build a new hangar to accommodate the growing fleet of Etihad Airways, its largest client. At the same time, Etihad placed one of the largest orders in civil aviation history, for up to 205 aircraft worth $43 billion at list prices.

At a signing yesterday at the air show, officials from Mubadala and EADS, the parent company of Airbus, agreed to work together on aerospace manufacturing, engineering, and research and development.

As part of the deal, Mubadala will invest $500m in a composites plant for the manufacture of carbon fibre, a key element in new aircraft models such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. The plant is expected to be operational in 2010. The first phase will be worth $161m.

Waleed al Mokarrab al Muhairi, the chief operating officer of Mubadala, said the deals were signed as part of an overall push to turn Abu Dhabi into a leading centre of industry and manufacturing.

“You can only make a studied play in five or six different sectors that you can ultimately become internationally competitive in, and we believe aerospace happens to be one of them,” he said.

Mubadala’s other activities include energy and health care, and more recently ventures into the property, hospitality and financial services sectors.

The initial deal announced yesterday calls for a 10-year contract to produce spoilers and flap track fairings for the Airbus A330, A340, A350 and A380. Future plans call for Mubadala to manufacture primary structures and components.

Mr Muhairi said the EADS alliance would play an important role in specialised, highly trained jobs within the emirate. “The investment in bricks and mortar is $500m, but the investment in people is something I cannot begin to quantify.”

He said the company hoped to produce components for other airframe makers, such as Boeing and Piaggio Aero, which Mubadala owns a stake in.

The deal also calls for the two to jointly develop an engineering centre, as well as research and development facilities in Abu Dhabi.

As a purchaser of components and systems on its commercial jets, Airbus has hundreds of suppliers on lucrative, long-term deals, and Mr Muhairi said it was these types of relationships that Mubadala hoped to cultivate in its aerospace practice.
“Aerospace works in generations, we’re not in it for three or four years. We’re taking a generational view on an industry,” he said.

The alliance is expected to eventually contribute as much as two per cent of the GDP of Abu Dhabi, according to Mubadala.

Airbus announced firm orders for aircraft worth $14.4bn at list prices from leasing companies at the air show yesterday. DAE Capital, the aircraft leasing and financing division of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, firmed up the purchase of 30 Airbus A350-900s and 70 A320s after signing a memorandum of understanding for the $12.6bn deal last November.

“DAE Capital aims to become a leading lessor based in the Middle East,” Airbus said.
The US lessor, Aviation Capital Group, a unit of Pacific LifeCorp, signed a firm contract to buy 23 Airbus A320-Family, single-aisle aircraft to take its fleet to 148 A320 planes.

The sales chief at Airbus, John Leahy, said the company planned to announce more orders today.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways said it had signed a memorandum of understanding for six Airbus A321 aircraft, made up of four firm orders and two options. The Gulf airline also said it was still interested in Bombardier’s CSeries, and hoped to announce a further Airbus A320-Family order soon.

Tunisair said it had signed a firm contract for three Airbus A350-800s, three A330-200s and 10 A320s in a deal worth about $1.94bn at list prices.

Airbus said Aviation Capital Group ordered 23 A320 planes, a deal worth about $1.7bn at list prices. The Russian aircraft maker, Sukhoi, signed a provisional agreement to sell 24 of its Superjet planes to the Russian leasing firm, Avialeasing, for about $630m.

The Nigerian airline, Arik, ordered seven Boeing 737 single-aisle jets and said it intended to purchase four 747-8 airliners. And Airbus said the Russian airline, Aeroflot, had ordered five A321 aircraft in a deal worth about $450m at list prices.
Original Article

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