CONVERTING POTENTIAL

Malaysia 2017 | AEROSPACE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Shamsul Kamar Abu Samah, CEO of the National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office (NAICO), on ambitions for the sector, including the 3M Global Aerospace Future Landscape project between Malaysia, Mexico, and Morocco.

Shamsul Kamar Abu Samah
BIOGRAPHY
Shamsul Kamar Abu Samah graduated from University of Portsmouth, UK in 1998 with a degree in electronic and electrical engineering. He joined NAICO after completing his tenure as the CEO of Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC). Before, he was the Head of Aerospace and Advanced Material at Malaysian Industry-Government Group For High Technology (MIGHT). He is a well-known aerospace industry expert, particularly in formulating strategic plans and initiatives in accelerating the development of Malaysia's aerospace industry. He spent over seven years as a senior engineer at Sapura Defence Sdn Bhd after serving Airod-Alenia Technologies.

What is your vision for NAICO?

One of the goals of the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030 is to establish an independent agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to look into the overall developments in the aerospace industry. MITI set up NAICO to take on this role before we establish a dedicated agency over the course of 2017. We aim to further engage with all aerospace-related agencies and stakeholders in order to consolidate the nation's aerospace industry development initiatives. We work closely with MIDA, MATRADE, and SME Corp, as well as MARA, as these are the main stakeholders in the aerospace industry. The Ministry of Transport, which oversees airports and aircraft operations, is also involved. We will focus mostly on the six pillars we have identified: aerospace manufacturing; MRO; system integrations; engineering and design; training and education; and research and technology, with support for defense industries as an additional area of attention. We want to develop the supply chain and the business environment for SMEs, as well as build up industry research and technology activities, the latter for which we will engage with Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC).

What is the vision behind the recent launch of the 3M Global Aerospace Future Landscape project between Malaysia, Mexico, and Morocco?

We predict OEMs and tier-one companies will seek regional hubs in specific markets. In this regard, we anticipate that Mexico will be the hub for North America, Morocco for Europe, and Malaysia for Asia Pacific. Competition is still ongoing and open for the Asia Pacific market, and we can take the lead there. 3M is part of our effort to engage with Mexico and Morocco and develop Malaysia as the hub for the Asia Pacific region. We visited Mexico recently to discuss potential ways to collaborate and to draft the outline of 3M. We also exchanged best practices on developing the right aerospace ecosystem on a national level. Asia Aerospace City (AAC) has an MoU with the Universidad Aeronáutica en Querétaro (UNAQ), where we learnt how UNAQ became a one-stop center for training and development for all the surrounding industries, from technicians to master's-level engineers in manufacturing. In Malaysia we have several institutes around the country that are working on this, and the key strength of Querétaro is that it brought them all together in a single area, something we would like to emulate here. We will also visit Morocco soon to discuss its experience and vision on the future development of the aerospace industry.

What is on your agenda in terms of R&D and sustainable aviation?

Together with AMIC, we have the Factory of the Future initiative, where we look to modernize in terms of technology and industry research. We recently signed an agreement with Airbus Group, University of Malaysia, and the French Embassy in Malaysia to develop and implement an online robotics project. At MITI we are poised for Industrial 4.0, which is in line with our policy here, where robots and information technology come together. We promote these activities under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, providing funding to AMIC to engage in robotics and other new approaches for aerospace manufacturing activities. We also want to utilize natural raw materials. For example, we want to produce aviation biofuel and take the regional lead here. AMIC is embarking on the development of sustainable aviation jet fuel with its partners UPM, UM, and other research institutes. Another recent project is on macro-algae, looking into seaweed plantations and how seaweed can be used to produce high-quality bio jet fuel. Malaysia has abundant natural materials it could use, and we explore all the possibilities of developing and producing that. We are considering working with Indonesia and Singapore on this. In addition, we look at green materials for the composites industries as natural source products like bio resins. There is much potential in renewable and sustainable materials for the aerospace industry.