Image credit: TVS-TVSARAWAK

SUBANG: European aircraft maker Airbus SE is aiming for US$550 million annual contribution to Malaysia’s economy within five years in sourcing and services businesses from the current US$400 million.

This will be driven by vast talent pools, higher learning institutions to support the local aerospace sector as well as incentives under the country’s roadmap for the sector.

Airbus head of Malaysia Raymond Lim said the airframe maker is on track to achieve the target backed by its continued commitment in local aerospace industry.

“Malaysia is Airbus’ third largest market in Asia Pacific after China and India. It has diverse presence in Malaysia’s aerospace industry including aircraft product line, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), training facilities and now with the completion and delivery centre for Airbus helicopters,” he said at a press conference after launching Airbus' new regional helicopter completion and delivery centre (CDC) here yesterday.

The CDC will serve Airbus’ new helicopters for customers in Southeast Asia being completed in and delivered for helicopter services, customer support and full-flight simulator training.

Lim said Airbus’ contribution target encompasses the existing businesses across all its divisions as well as future projects.

“We will reveal our future plans soon in Malaysia. The country is an important market for us and we recognise the governmental support and policy,” he said, adding that Malaysia is well known for its support and incentive for the aerospace companies.

Lim said Malaysia’s National Aerospace Blueprint 2013 has clear and defined objectives in different areas of the aviation industry.

“This augurs very well for industry players like Airbus. Malaysia also has the talent pools and abundant higher learning institutions that are able to support the talents that come to the market,” he said.

Lim said Airbus is confident of its investments in Malaysia, and that the success rate would be high, supported by continued efficiency measures in its activities.

Airbus currently employs over 4,000 directly and indirectly, of which more than 90 per cent of its workforce are Malaysians.

The remaining are foreigners to ensure a constant evolution of technology and innovation in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government has identified aerospace as a strategic industry with wide potential to help the country’s industrialisation and technological development.

“Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing for aerospace and aviation is undisputed. There is growth across all aircraft types in this region – in particular commercial and helicopters and there is potential for greater growth over the next two decades,” he said.

According to Airbus global market forecast, 22,000 helicopters are needed in the next 20 years, about 35 per cent would be derived in Asia Pacific for the global demand.

Currently the region has over 9,000 helicopters in operation, which is widely use across military and civil sectors.

“Given the vibrancy of the sector, Malaysia is one of the most important strategic markets for Airbus Helicopters with about 50 per cent market share for rotorcraft locally.

“It is timely for Airbus Helicopters has opened its regional hub for helicopter completion, delivery, MRO and full flight simulation training in Malaysia,” he said.

The CDC is able to accommodate up to four medium-sized helicopters, while capable to completing and delivering up to 20 helicopters per year from across all its rotorcraft models.

Airbus also expands its full motion full-flight simulation centre with the addition of a Dauphin AS365 N3/N3+ simulator to its existing H225/H225M simulator.

The simulators are suitable for training of pilots and crew from customers in the military, para-public and civil sectors through the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

The facility is fully equipped to provide a broad spectrum of services from scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, aircraft modifications, aircraft completion and delivery, material management and technical support.

Airbus Helicopters is expected to deliver seven rotocraft by end of this year and 13 units by 2020.