Jordan’s aerospace industry can benefit from concentrating on niche markets, believes Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein, the brother of King Abdullah II. But he warns that the Middle Eastern kingdom must ensure that it focuses on projects that can be economically justified.

The country’s relatively young aerospace sector includes firms such as Jordan Aerospace Industries, which develops light aircraft, and the civil trade has been complemented by the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB), established eight years ago to assist the state to create a sustainable defence industry base.

Prince Feisal says: “Obviously the general health and status of the aerospace industry globally has a bearing on the fledgling aerospace industry in Jordan. But I think Jordan can develop very successfully, particularly in market niches - it's a question of balancing reality against ambition.”

He says the Jordanian civil sector is “bringing pressure” on the military, notably in recruitment demand, and says “partnership” between the two areas is necessary. “We have very skilled, talented people. It's a question of feeding enough of those people to support programmes on the civil side and the military,” he says. “Making sure we have the right balance so no sector suffers from lack of forethought from the other side.”

KADDB has coupled with foreign technological specialists to form a string of joint ventures producing a range of defence equipment. Aeronautical activities include Jordan Advanced Remote Systems, which has pursued development of unmanned air vehicles, and Seabird Aviation Jordan, which manufactures the Seeker SB7-360 observation aircraft.

Seabird Aviation Jordan believes that it will need to quadruple the size of its production facility at Amman’s Marka airport next year, as it bids to raise production of the single-engined Seeker. Seabird started new part production lines for the Seeker earlier this year. It has already supplied Seekers to the Iraqi defence forces and a customer in South Africa, and expects to deliver the latest aircraft during the Dubai air show.

Aimed to be an inexpensive alternative to helicopters, the Seeker has a taildragger design with a rear-mounted propeller enabling it to offer wide-angle visibility from the two-seat cockpit.

Source: Flight Daily News