Composite Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) is shutting down its Eagle 150 trainer assembly line and discussing licence production opportunities with other Asian manufacturers.

Chief executive Rosdi Mahmud says a lack of demand for the two-seater and its unmanned variant, the Eagle Aerial Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV), is prompting CTRM to stop producing the Eagle at the end of this year.

But he says the company will “retain the expertise” to allow it to restart the Eagle assembly line with three months’ lead time should demand improve locally. In the meantime, CTRM hopes to set up a new assembly line elsewhere in Asia. It is in talks with other Asian manufacturers, mainly in China, interested in licence-producing the Eagle or buying the type certificate. “We’re looking for an area where the cost is lower and demand is higher,” says Rosdi.

About 30 Eagles are operating in Malaysia, mainly in the private general-aviation sector, and the air force operates three ARVs and Eagle 150s. About 30 Eagle 150s are operating in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

The ARV will not be included in any licence-production deal, but CTRM wants to convert some of the existing Eagle 150s into UAVs for potential government customers.

CTRM’s other foray into general aviation has ended with the transfer of most of its stake in Oregon-based light aircraft manufacturer Columbia, formerly known as Lancair, to the Malaysian government. Rosdi says CTRM has stopped supplying Columbia with composite fuselages, and its share of the company has dropped to 6-7%. The Malaysian government owns all of CTRM and now nearly all of Columbia.

Rosdi says the cost of shipping the fuselages to Oregon was too high to make its supplier relationship with Columbia economical and, unless demand for the aircraft improves in Asia, it is not feasible for CTRM to build the fuselage.

However, he says CTRM is not ruling out pursuing new general aviation projects.

Source: Flight International