AIRBUS INDUSTRIE has offered to transfer, production of composite airframe components to Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Engineering, in a last-ditch effort to secure a deal with the national carrier for up to ten A340s.

The offer, made by Airbus president Jean Pierson, centres on the production of composite cargo-compartment liners, for the consortium's entire family of narrow- and wide body aircraft.

Pierson's proposal also contains " technical assistance in the implementation of the programme, including workshop qualification and production start-up". Airbus would provide training and manufacturing equipment, such as a composite autoclave.

The country's aerospace industry is keen develop a high-technology composite capability, as part of prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's much-vaunted Vision 2020 economic blueprint for Malaysia to become a developed nation.

Airbus partner British Aerospace has also signed an accord with MAS to produce composite airline-seats in Malaysia. The memorandum of understanding brings together UK seat manufacturer Contour International and De Bono Industries of Malaysia.

The European consortium has linked the offer of composite technology to MAS' pending requirement for new medium-capacity, long-range (MCLR) passenger aircraft. Airline managing director Wan Malek says, however: "If they want to make an offer, it's a separate exercise altogether."

Airbus is facing strong competition from Boeing, which is offering the twin-engine 777 and additional 747-400s for MAS' higher-capacity routes. The airline is expected to announce an order for 25-30 MCLR aircraft and 747-400s, plus a larger number of options, before the end of the year.

Source: Flight International