Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development (AIDC) has broken ground on a new facility that will design, develop and manufacture composite parts for aircraft manufacturers.
The construction on the 50,000 square metre Taiwan Advanced Composite Centre (TACC) in Taichung will be completed in mid-2010, and production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of the year, says AIDC.
"More than 50% of all aircraft structures are made of composites and we must have expertise in that field. The TACC would allow AIDC to expand its services to a much wider range of our customers' needs," says AIDC's president Shung Yeou Kuang.
The company adds that the facility "signifies a new era in the continuing development of Taiwan's aerospace industry, placing AIDC at the forefront to lead, support and foster the realisation of the national aerospace development policies and objectives".
AIDC plans to approach aircraft manufacturers to find out about their requirements. It will then design, develop and manufacture components for their aircraft, says Shung.
Initially, this new composites facility will focus parts for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet programme. AIDC will design and manufacture slats, flaps, belly fairings, rudders and horizontal stabiliser rotating blades for the MRJ, which is due to enter service by 2014.
It has also been invited to bid to manufacture flaps, slats, leading edge flaps, rudder elevators and belly fairings for the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China 919, the Chinese narrowbody that is under development and is being lined up to challenge the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
AIDC, which was formed in 1969 to create an indigenous aerospace manufacturing capability, primarily for the island's defence needs, still relies mainly on the military for most of its revenues.
Over the last decade, it has been diversifying into the civil aviation business and has won contracts from companies such as Sikorsky, Boeing, GE and Honeywell. Earlier this month, it signed a deal with Pratt & Whitney manufacture casings for the F-100-229 family of engines that are used on F-15s and Lockheed Martin F-16s fighters.