Malaysia hopes to venture into the development of unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous aircraft in the future, as it remains optimistic of an aerospace industry rebound as early as next year. 

Speaking at the Airbus Malaysia Connect Webinar on 22 April, Malaysian minister for international trade and industry Azmin Ali  says the coronavirus pandemic has battered much of the aerospace industry. The country’s aerospace revenue in 2020 was down 30% from 2019’s MYR16.2 billion ($3.94 billion). 


Source: Malaysia Airport Holdings

An artist’s impression of the Subang airport area, which is home to major aerospace companies.

Malaysia counts its aerospace sector among its key revenue generators. Subang, a town south of Kuala Lumpur, is a growing aerospace hub that is home to major players spanning the supply chain, such as Airbus Helicopters and GE Aviation.  

On recovery prospects, Azmin echoed the industry’s sentiments that a rebound to pre-pandemic revenue levels could come as early as next year. 

While the Malaysian government has rolled out relief measures to help the aerospace industry cope with the impact of the pandemic, the minister notes that recovery hinges on whether or not the sector can “continue to work on packages with a positive impact on the whole ecosystem, though product localisation”. 

“Recovery will be expedited if industry can further expand its air cargo services, business aviation, MRO, as well as professional training services,” he adds. 

On the development of UAVs and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, Azmin notes that there is “no lack of local talents” in the country, and urged the industry to tap into growing opportunities in the area. 

“We want to develop an ecosystem not limited to UAVs and drones, but also VTOLs and autonomous flying objects for the local and export markets,” he adds.