AIDC, China Airlines ink letter of intent

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 29, 2019 - Page 12

Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC, 漢翔航空工業) yesterday signed a letter of intent with state-owned China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空) as it moves to diversify its business into aircraft seating and components maintenance.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) and Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) attended the signing at a news conference in Taipei.

AIDC, the nation’s largest civil and military aircraft manufacturer, can now provide commercial airline seats after it received a letter of design approval in May from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its three-abreast seats, AIDC chairman Hu Kai-hung (胡開宏) told reporters.

They are suitable for narrow-body aircraft, he said.

The firm had received production approval from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) in 2017, Hu said.

Tapping into the commercial aircraft seating market would give AIDC new momentum, he said, adding that previously concentrated on supplying components such as engine cases and doors to international clients such as Airbus SE and Boeing Co, Hu said.

AIDC would work hard on a bid for about 600 economy-class seats that CAL needs as it retrofits two older Boeing 747s it plans to sell, Hu said.

As the Boeing 747 is a wide-body jetliner, AIDC would develop another prototype for seats for double-aisle aircraft and apply for certification from the CAA and FAA, AIDC senior vice president Gary Lo (羅清溪) said.

The company’s first prototype has passed the most difficult dynamic tests to ensure the seats could protect passengers from the impact of a crash, Lo said.

Although the revenue generated by the CAL seating deal would not be much, it would demonstrate AIDC’s ambition to enter this market, Hu said.

The company would also discuss what maintenance services it could provide to CAL, even though the airline has its own maintenance department, he said.

“We manufacture a lot of components for Airbus and Boeing, and if they agree, we could directly provide some of these products to CAL for their replacement needs, which would save CAL time,” AIDC spokeswoman Jennifer Chuang (莊秀美) said.

As CAL is also to remodel some of its old passenger planes into cargo planes, AIDC would like to provide assistance in airplane design and components manufacturing, where it has an advantage, Hu said.

AIDC’s maintenance business now accounts for just a small portion of its revenue, so there is a lot of room for growth, Chuang said.