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Thailand: Manufacturing of composite aircraft interior parts

General information
Project location: Chon Buri, Thailand
Consortium: Aeroworks Composites BV, Siam Aviation Industries Ltd.
Project Budget: Euro 1.2 million
External financing: 50% grant funding by PSOM
Project period: July 2006 - June 2008

The aviation industry has recovered from its first serious draw back as a result of 9/11 and the SARS crisis. Passenger levels are back to pre 9/11 level and are expected to grow steadily again with a growing demand especially in the emerging economies in the far east. Airlines cut cost , grounded fuel inefficient aircraft and this resulted in significantly higher occupancy rates/load factors of the aircraft. With a structural higher oil price they are now looking to the future to reduce the operational cost by reducing fuel consumption, which can run up to 30-50% to operate a modern airliner. Older aircraft are being replaced with more fuel efficient ones and the manufacturing industry is looking for opportunities to reduce the airplanes weight.

Ever since the mid eighties aircraft manufacturers have been applying composite materials as a alternative for traditional aluminium. This only applied to the structure of the aircraft. Now airlines are starting to replace aluminium interior parts with composites, driven by the benefits of weight reduction and the effect on the fuel bill. This is a new application for this material.

The Aeroworks Group is a Dutch company and is a supplier of aluminium components for the aviation industry. Their business model of having decentralized expertise centres close to the aircraft manufacturers (The Netherlands EU for Airbus and California US for Boeing) and a centralized manufacturing capability in Thailand (Siam Aviation Ltd) is successful. The expertise centres work together with the clients giving engineering advise and make the requested products ready for serial production at Siam.

Aeroworks recognises the importance of the trend in the industry and has brought the necessary skills and know-how together in a new expertise centre for composites: Aeroworks Composites BV in the Netherlands. A new joint venture needs to be set-up to be able to manufacture composite components in serial production at international aviation certified quality standards.

The project will lead to (1) the establishment of a joint venture for the serial production of composite aircraft components; (2) installation of a certified production line; (3) staff training in all aspects of composite technology and production, both on-the-job and in the Netherlands; (4) a pilot production, marketing and sales of the first products: and (5) a bankable business plan for follow-on investments.

If the pilot project, which is expected to run for two years and employ 30 people, proves successful Aeroworks will invest further in expansion and diversification. All depends on market conditions but other possible fields of application have been identified and will be part of the marketing and sales strategy of the PSOM project. Safety products like helmets, antiballistic products like bullet proof vests and the automotive industries are promising markets. This is also part of the risk evasion policy and not be dependent on the aviation industry alone.

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