AERODYNAMISM

Malaysia 2017 | AEROSPACE | FOCUS: AEROPARKS

Seeking to be the number-one country in aerospace by 2030, Malaysia is ramping up plans to develop and revamp aeroparks around the country in a bid to capitalize on its strengths and advancements in the sector.

One of the reasons why Malaysia has great opportunity to grow its aerospace manufacturing industry is that it has land, much more than its neighbor Singapore. The last decade has seen plans materialize for the development of new aeroparks and revamping existing industrial parks for aerospace purposes.
One exciting new project launched by M-Aerotech, the aerospace division of state-owned MARA, is the Asia Aerospace City (AAC). The aim with the AAC is not just to develop one project, but rather to become a brand name for aeroparks. The first park is currently under development in Subang, near the premise of the previous international Kuala Lumpur airport, and focuses primarily on high-quality engineering services, design, and human capital development. STRAND Aerospace is among the first tenants of the park. The AAC saw its global launch at the Paris Air Show in 2014, with the objective of getting foreign investors and aerospace companies to choose Malaysia as their Southeast Asian hub. Shamsul Kamar Abu Samah, head of the recently established NAICO, has indicated that Senai district, just across the Johor Straits from Singapore, will be part of the new ecosystem as well. The Senai Aviation Park next to the airport has already contracted some aerospace companies from Singapore.

The second area dedicated to aerospace is located in Serendah and is owned by UMW Holding. UMW is known for its partnership with Toyota on the assembly of automobiles in Malaysia, which takes place at this park. The other tenant is Perodua, the domestic car producer. The total land area is well over 800 acres, of which 30 acres are dedicated to UMW Aerospace, a UMW-Rolls Royce partnership, on the co-production of fan cases for aircraft engines. Branded the Aerospace Hard Metal Manufacturing Park, UMW has indicated that other aerospace industry players have been invited to set up operations at the park. UMW intends to develop the park as a platform for second and third-tier businesses to flourish.

The final assembly of aircraft engines for Rolls Royce is done at Seletar in Singapore, a park that is often mentioned as the inspiration for aeroparks in Malaysia. Having the right infrastructure, industrial ecosystem, and government support are among the key drivers of Seletar and can be emulated in Malaysian aeroparks.
A third aeropark that was recently inaugurated is KLIA Aeropolis, under development by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB). MAHB has vast experience in running aeroparks, having managed 39 airports in Malaysia; however, Aeropolis is something new. On the premises lies KLIA, the international KL airport located 70km south of the city. MAHB has significant expansion plans that cross into a broad range of aerospace activities. The development is centered on key clusters of air cargo and logistics, aerospace and aviation parks, MICE, and leisure. Swiss company RUAG Aviation is one of the tenants, setting up a large MRO facility. In total, an area of roughly 100sqkm around KLIA will turn into an airport city. At the launch in May 2016, MAHB declared its intention to contribute MYR30 billion to the nation's GDP over the next 15 years and create 56,000 jobs, excluding airport terminal operations.

In addition to KLIA, the MAHB intends to develop an aerospace park in Malacca, 150km south of KL. Malacca is home to CTRM AeroComposites, a homegrown manufacturer of composite aero structures. It is a global player and the main supplier of Spirit Aerosystems.

The revised Aerospace Blueprint 2030, launched in 2015, aims to develop Malaysia as the destination of choice for OEMs in aerospace. Boeing, Airbus, and Rolls Royce already have a presence in Malaysia, with strong domestic players to complement the landscape. Moving up the value chain is another key objective of the blueprint, and the AAC in particular has chosen to focus on highly specialized capital-intensive aerospace technologies. The first AAC opens in late 2017 while the development of Aeropolis will be in stages, with the first section to open in 2019. UMW Aerospace expects to start production in October 2017.