Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has agreed to sign as the first Asian risk- and revenue-sharing partner on the Airbus A380 ultra-large airliner programme, with a 1.5% stake.

An initial contract, covering the production of lower outer wing skin panels, is due to be signed by the end of this month. The South Korean manufacturer is negotiating further contracts to make other wing parts.

Ultimately, KAI's share will be the equivalent of 1.5% of the $10.7 billion programme.

The initial part - lower wing panel number five - will be made from aluminium at KAI's Changwon factory and measure about 6.6 x 3m (21 x 10ft). The company values this work at $100 million over the next 20 years, based on forecast A380 sales. "We have received authorisation to proceed from Airbus," says KAI commercial business development director T F Oh.

KAI will apply to the South Korean government for a low-interest loan to fund its share.

Earlier this month, Airbus revealed a first tranche of A380 subcontracts, worth $650 million over 20 years, with Japanese manufacturers. Airbus had hoped to enlist Japanese firms as risk-sharing partners, but was rebuffed because the latter were anxious to preserve their close relationships with Boeing.

Alenia parent Finmeccanica last year agreed to take a 4% stake in the A380, having been offered as much as 10%.

Australia's Hawker de Havilland has been chosen by Airbus to design and build the A380's wingtip fences. The Boeing-owned company already manufactures winglets for Airbus A330s/A340s and has been appointed by the US manufacturer to participate in technology development of its Sonic Cruiser project, focusing on advanced composite materials.

Source: Flight International