Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC, 漢翔航空), the nation’s biggest aircraft maker, yesterday announced that it has signed a NT$1.5 billion (US$49.5 million) agreement with UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) to supply aircraft engine nacelle components to the US firm over the next 10 years.
A nacelle is a streamlined casing used on the outside of aircraft, especially those that have engines.
Gary Lo (羅清溪), head of AIDC’s civil aircraft department, and John Gimmie, the director of UTAS’ Southeast Asia supply chain management unit, yesterday signed the contract at the Singapore Airshow, which opened on Tuesday and runs through Sunday.
Under the contract, Charlotte, North Carolina-based UTAS will place orders of nacelle components with the Taiwanese firm. The components will be made of composite materials, rather than metals, and will be used in civil aircraft, AIDC said.
“AIDC and UTAS’ partnership will not only benefit the two companies, it will also generate business opportunities for Taiwan’s electronics supply chain,” AIDC spokesman Mike Lee (李適彰) said by telephone.
Lee said composites are emerging as the material of choice for aircraft engine nacelles because they can reduce an aircraft’s weight, whereas metal-made nacelles are heavier on the same hardness basis.
Since 2010, AIDC has been supplying composites nacelles to 18 companies from seven countries, including the US’ Boeing Co and France’s Airbus SAS, Lee said.
He said that 55 percent of Boeing’s civil aircraft are equipped with composite nacelles that were manufactured by AIDC.
As part of the company’s long-term strategy to transform itself a private company and “catch up with the industry trend,” AIDC, which is a state-run enterprise, in 2010 established a four-floor 4-hectare plant in Greater Taichung to produce aircraft parts made of composites, Lee said.
The factory, called the Taiwan Advanced Composite Center, has supplied Boeing and Airbus with various kinds of composite-made aircraft parts, including engines, nacelles and fuselage, every year since it was opened, the spokesman said.
“AIDC’s long-term goal is to become the world’s largest aircraft part designer and maker, and we are confident that more aircraft makers will contact us with new business opportunities in the future because of our high-quality engineering skills,” Lee added.