Taiwan's Cabinet has passed a bill setting a strict December 2003 deadline for the privatisation of struggling aviation manufacturer Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC).

"The Cabinet set us a clear target," says Mike Lee, director of AIDC's executive office. The bill listed five potential buyers: Chiao Tung Bank, China Development Bank, the National Defence Industry Development Fund, the Yau Hua glass company and the China Aviation Development Foundation.

AIDC's previous privatisation attempts stalled and the company had to abandon a risk-sharing role in the Airbus A380 due to a lack of capital.

Since building the last of 130 Indigenous Defence Fighters in 1999, AIDC's revenue has shrunk from about $750 million a year to less than $300 million. Sources say it is losing about $60 million a year.

Most risk-sharing ventures are several years from profitable production, including cockpits for the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, empennages for the Bombardier Continental business jet and wings for the Aero Vodochody AE270 turboprop. AIDC needs about NT$900 million ($26.5 million) to stay afloat, says Lee.

Source: Flight International