STRATA AIMS TO PRO­DUCE BOE­ING AND AIR­BUS NAR­ROW-BODY PARTS

▶ UAE man­u­fac­turer is also con­sid­er­ing out­sourc­ing some pro­duc­tion lines to In­dia

The National - News - - BUSINESS - DEENA KAMEL

Strata is seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to pro­duce Boe­ing and Air­bus nar­row-body plane parts for the first time as it looks to di­ver­sify its port­fo­lio.

The Mubadala In­vest­ment Com­pany’s aerospace man­u­fac­tur­ing unit, is keen on pro­duc­ing parts on the Air­bus A320 Neo, Boe­ing 737 Max and its pre­de­ces­sor 737 NG model to cap­i­talise on their ex­ten­sive or­der back­logs, Is­mail Ab­dulla, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Strata told The National.

“We want to be on th­ese two pro­grammes be­cause they are the high­est [pro­duc­tion] rate in the mar­ket and the most suc­cess­ful and their back­log is just amaz­ing,” Mr Ab­dulla said.

Strata man­u­fac­tures parts on wide-bod­ies, busi­ness jets and tur­bo­props. It counts among its cus­tomers in­ter­na­tional aerospace gi­ants Boe­ing, Air­bus, Italy’s Leonardo and Switzer­land’s Pi­la­tus Air­craft for bil­lions of dol­lars worth of con­tracts.

It is the Gulf’s big­gest pro­ducer of air­craft parts and a key an­chor of the UAE’s eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion ef­forts. The com­pany, which be­gan op­er­a­tions in 2010, makes com­pos­ite parts for wings and tail fins on jets in­clud­ing Air­bus A380s and A330s, as well as Boe­ing 777, 777X and 787 Dream­lin­ers.

Strata’s in­ter­est in Boe­ing’s 737 Max, grounded glob­ally af­ter two fa­tal crashes, is a vote of con­fi­dence in the em­bat­tled jet as the plane maker seeks reg­u­la­tory ap­proval for soft­ware changes be­fore the Max can re­turn to ser­vice.

“Th­ese is­sues will be re­solved – Boe­ing I’m sure will be able to get through the chal­lenges they’re fac­ing on the Max,” he said. “I strongly be­lieve this air­craft will be back.”

Strata’s shift­ing fo­cus to sin­gle-aisle jets comes amid ex­pec­ta­tions of slow­ing twinaisle jet sales as the aviation in­dus­try faces over­ca­pac­ity, fierce com­pe­ti­tion and a slow­ing global econ­omy that has dented air freight vol­umes and slowed pas­sen­ger traf­fic growth.

“The chal­lenge is the next 18 months: there’s soft­en­ing de­mand, es­pe­cially on wide-body air­craft, but this is be­cause of the cycli­cal­ity of our in­dus­try,” he said, not­ing the long-term fore­cast for jet de­liv­er­ies re­mains strong.

Strata is in talks with Boe­ing to pro­duce ad­di­tional parts on the new 777X wide-body wing and tail, on top of an ex­ist­ing con­tract to pro­duce its em­pen­nage ribs, and hopes to reach an agree­ment next year.

It is also in “ad­vanced talks” with Pi­la­tus for more work pack­ages and pro­duc­tion lines on its twin-aisle PC-24 busi­ness jet, in ad­di­tion to an ex­ist­ing con­tract to make belly fair­ings, with the aim of seal­ing the deal by year-end.

Strata’s high­est pro­duc­tion rate in­volves 787 Dream­lin­ers, for which it makes the ribs, and will start pro­duc­ing ver­ti­cal fins in its ex­ten­sion fa­cil­ity, Strata Plus, next year.

“It’s the largest tech-trans­fer from any Boe­ing fa­cil­ity to any lo­ca­tion in the world and it’s com­ing to [the] UAE,” Mr Ab­dulla said. “We will be pro­duc­ing the first shipset by Q4 2020.”

As part of plans to con­sol­i­date its sup­plier net­work and fo­cus on new work pack­ages, Strata is con­sid­er­ing out­sourc­ing some of its cur­rent pro­duc­tion lines or sup­ply chain ac­tiv­i­ties to In­dia, Mr Ab­dulla said. Asked about po­ten­tial new cus­tomers, the chief ex­ec­u­tive said China’s aerospace plans are “ex­cit­ing” but Strata is watch­ing how the Com­mer­cial Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion of China C919 jet will progress. It is yet to be cer­ti­fied, but dozens of cus­tomers – mostly Chi­nese – have placed or­ders and com­mit­ments for more than 800 jets.

Mark­ing its 10th year since its es­tab­lish­ment, Strata is plan­ning ahead for the next decade.

“We want to po­si­tion our­selves as a man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany that’s driven by tech­nol­ogy and we won’t only con­cen­trate on aerostruc­tures,” Mr Ab­dulla said.

Strata is plan­ning to in­tro­duce more ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and 3D print­ing so­lu­tions to its pro­duc­tion lines to en­hance com­pet­i­tive­ness, he added.

Strata’s in­ter­est in the 737 Max, grounded glob­ally af­ter two fa­tal crashes, is a vote of con­fi­dence in the em­bat­tled jet

The deals Strata struck with Air­bus and Boe­ing were made pos­si­ble by the growth of Eti­had Air­ways and Emi­rates Ravin­dranath K / The National

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